SHORT STORY COLLECTION
That thing called love
Glaswegian author Janice Galloway comes down from her hive of activity long enough to speak to Ann Donald about her latest short story collection.
Speaking with Janice Galloway is an exhausting experience — the verbal equivalent of someone
leaving it buzzing healthin for hours afterwards.
With freshly scrubbed complexion and piercing blue eyes. the elegantly dressed author appears to have flown in from a face cream shoot rather than a late night clubbing at Archaos (our woman was impressed by the patrons‘ ‘rubber kilts and rubber bra cups with carpet tacks sticking out').
Galloway is discussing her excellent new collection of self-proclaimed love stories Where You Find II. Adorned by a cover some might term a post-modern homage to Barbara Cartland. with lurid pink velveteen. yellow roses and heart-shaped ham sandwiches. Where You Find It is an achineg caustic and beautifully prickly read of twenty finely-honed and disturbingly powerful stories. Each delves deep into that tempestuous and sensuous quagmire. ‘relationships'.
Galloway precedes the collection with a quote from l9th century author Margaret Kennedy. who recommends: ‘lt is better to break one‘s heart than to do nothing with it‘. Extraordinary stories like Valentine and Peeping 'limt seem to contradict this
whooshing a bottle of Frish through your grey matter.
Janice Galloway: tackles the raw, scary stuff
dictum of the heart they provoke such deep feelings of yearning frustration in characters' inability to communicate with each other.
The inability to communicate is not a failing attributable to (ialloway. ller ringed hands gesticulate in a constant flurry to reinforce and qualify statements and her voice oscillates from raucous bursts of laughter to quiet insistence. But it is this tacit and convenient acceptance of non— communication by society that drives Galloway to metaphorically write about what we blindly refer to as ‘stuff‘. The unspeakable territory in our relationships where everything is far from Hollywood ltunky—dory.
‘Jean Paul Sartre's idea of muurats/iris is about the
I act of self—deception by any society in pretending not
to notice the fucked tip things like poverty. like fucked tip relationships.‘ she explains. ‘liskimos have about 40 different words for 'snow' but we don't even have one for that “stuff” called “stuff”. Most of us spend our time trying to ignore it but you've got to teach yourself to notice just enough and still manage to get by in life.‘
A highly articulate and liumorous individual driven to saw through the bullshit. minus the anal navel- gazing. Galloway asks ‘Why'.’ No. but \V'hy'.". when everyone else sidesteps what she calls ‘lllC raw, scarey stuff‘. The reaction she’s gauged from those unwilling to confront our darker side is predictable. Parodying ‘()utraged from ls'elyinside‘. she says: ‘When you start to write about it and really get under the surface of our own skin. people get offended. They’re shocked because they don‘t want to acknowledge such unpleasantness. That's why I‘m nuts about someone like Margaritte l)uras's book l’rrtt'lit‘u/ities because she really gets under the skin '
Someone like A. 8. Hyatt or llarold Brodkey. on the other hand. are pitied by (ialloway for their clinically cerebral approach to their work and life (ialloway's visceral characters are in constant conﬂict with the sensations of mind. body and spirit. "l‘hey ‘re so bloody sad and obsessed by intellect that they think they can cushion themselves away in a padded intellectual world and keep themselves safe.‘ slic
rails. ‘With them. nothing bleeds or oo/cs and so
they‘re gradually shoving the cork so far tip their own sphincter nttiscle that they‘re going to aspliixiate themselves.‘
(ialloway is still fining with enthusiasm from the Toronto tour of The 'l'rit'k Is '10 Keep [treat/zinc: loves working with cotiiposcr Sally Beatnile with whom she is directing a new production v. ith. and professes that ‘this is the first book I've been comfortable. All of which leads one to assume that if Janice (ialloway had a current theme tune. there's a fair bet it would llc [1111." l’t’li's ‘l.ttst l’or Life'. ll’liere lint Find It by Jamie (nil/mi to Is pit/dished by .lmtttI/Iun (it/ie (ll ("N/(l. Her play l'tiH l\' purl u/ the S/Iurp .S'lmrls series (1! '/'/1e ‘l'rttrerve. lit/m/nu‘e/I. 3/ May» 9 June.
School of hard knocks
Thomas ilealy grew up wanting to be a heavyweight champion of the world. The nearest he got was a broken hand in a barroom brawl.
‘l disliked the nudity in boxing,’ says the Glasgow author. ‘llot that I was a prude - I doubt that anyone could ever accuse me of being a prude - but I was cirumcised, a sort ot oddity, or so I thought, and I fancied that everyone was looking at my cock.’
llealy is speaking about his obsession with boxing, the inspiration for his latest book A Hurting Business.
a hug ' ,‘
Thomas llealy: tlylng like a butterfly, stinging like a bee
power that struck you.’
These days llealy is a purveyor of a different kind of pain. It took under- appreciated novels and a spell in a Spanish prison before Irish author Colm Toibin brought him to the attention of his publishers at Picador. The rest, as they say, is misery.
A Hurting Business is a story of personal disillusionment — Healy selects from a roster of maladies; alcoholism, sexual frustration, bereavement. Braided with these is a deep love for the great prizefighters, particularly Muhammad Ali. ‘One glimpse. It was all it took. Ali’s power. He had a curvaceous bum and it might be that that helped to throw you. But close up, man to man, it was the
In his early fifties, with a sweet, wintry face and a huge, swinging frame, llealy is steadily gaining recognition, but you get the impression that having space to think
things over is important. The reserve, the shyness, the old world courtesies — these are all about keeping perspective, about self maintenance and self preservation.
‘I am still fucked if I know why I am doing it,’ he says, speaking about writing. ‘I felt like an old fighter in that I knew what i wanted to do and I saw the openings, how I should move; but when I tried to move, the openings had closed. I was too slow, dull in the head}
A Hurting Business is written with razor-sharp precision — Healy carves his observations with strokes so swift and economical that each scene almost ends before the reader is aware of it. It’s heavy with disappointment but peculiarly, bitterly hopeful — a brief, but unsettling masterpiece. (Andrew Meehan)
A Hurting Business by Thomas Healy is published by Picador at f 14. 99.
85 The List 17-30 May l9‘)o