What’s in a kiss? Desired, unwelcomed, missed?
In these twelve short stories, Barbara Bleiman explores the significance of a kiss in the lives of multiple characters. From Renaissance Italy to a prostitute’s bedroom in contemporary London, from the USSR under Brezhnev to a 1970s package holiday in Spain, from a hospital ward today to a ‘bubble’ far in the future, the stories adopt different voices and genres, creating a kaleidoscope of contrasting angles and styles.
Inspired by Chekhov’s iconic short story, ‘The Kiss’, this richly varied collection – wistful, sensual, painful and at times quirky and comical– appeals both to the head and the heart.
Bleiman’s precise, economical prose vividly evokes a remarkable variety of characters, situations, emotions, times and places.
I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in these rich slices of life.
These are short, punchy stories full of sharp observation delivered in clean precise, unfussy prose, most from the perspective of women. Using the hook of a kiss works well: each story begins with an enjoyable anticipation of its kiss and how it might be bestowed. Kisses are counted, withheld, watched, enjoyed, missed and in one case, ingeniously delivered, in a multitude of different settings, from the dystopian near future where kisses are deemed ‘too germy’ – slightly uncomfortable reading in our current predicament –to a couple of paparazzi waiting outside a footballer’s Primrose Hill mansion, hoping for the money shot. Altogether a smartly written collection which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Extract from review on A Life in Books Blog 20th January 2021
If you missed the launch event in December 2020 and would like to watch the reading of one of the short stories, the discussion of the book between Barbara and author Lawrence Scott and the Q&A, you can find it here, on Barbara’s website.