This is a book of rather brief short stories, few of which exceed a dozen pages. This leaves room for nineteen stories in a fairly short collection. Most of them read easily, each one effortlessly displacing its predecessor. There are, of course, standouts, to which I shall return, but the most striking overall characteristic is the distinctively personalised tone. The wide variety of personae notwithstanding, the voice is first person in more than half of the stories. Even when this is not the case, Halligan’s project is still to explore, intently and imaginatively, the mind of another. Anyone may idly wonder what is going through the thoughtful head of the bespectacled man sitting opposite her on a tram, but Halligan delves forensically to make her revelations.
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