The Dressing-Up Box

Comma Press
Free sample

Against the backdrop of war, a group of children barricade themselves in an abandoned townhouse, cherishing what’s left of their innocence with the help of a dressing-up box...


A deep-sea diver takes to being suspended for hours at a time on the end of a line not long enough to reach the seabed...


An aging widower moves into the shed at the end of his garden to plan out his ‘endgame’ surrounded by a lifetime’s worth of hoarded curiosities...


The characters in David Constantine’s fifth collection are all in pursuit of sanctuary; the violence and mendacity of the outside world presses in from all sides – be it the ritualised brutality suffered by children at a Catholic orphanage, or the harrowing videos shared among refugees of an atrocity ‘back home’. In each case, the characters withdraw into themselves, sometimes abandoning language altogether, until something breaks and they can retreat no further. In Constantine’s luminous prose, these stories capture such moments in all their clarity; moments when an entire life seems to hang in the balance, the past’s betrayals exposed, its ghosts dragged out into the daylight; moments in which the possibility of defiance and redemption is everything.


Praise for The Dressing-Up Box:

'A quietly furious and moving collection...' - A.L. Kennedy

'Precise in their intensity, unsettling, suddenly and unexpectedly luminous, these stories will stay with you and unfurl within you.' - Lucy Caldwell

'A beautifully crafted tender, evocative collection. Full of wisdom and light.' - Irenosen Okojie

'David Constantine's fifth collection of stories is a fierce and tender meditation on our struggle to live - a lyrical and plainspoken portrait of humanity at its pernicious worst and its suffering, creative, resilient best.' - Carys Davies

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About the author

Born in Salford, DAVID CONSTANTINE has published several volumes of poetry, and two novels (most recently The Life-Writer) as well as four previous short story collections: Back at the Spike (1994), the highly acclaimed Under the Dam (2005), The Shieling (2009) and Tea at the Midland (2012), which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2013. David’s story ‘Tea at the Midland’ won the 2010 National Short Story Award, and his story ‘In Another Country’ was adapted into 45 Years – an Oscar-nominated film, directed by Andrew Haigh and starring Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling. With his wife Helen, David edited Modern Poetry in Translation for many years. He is also translator of Hölderlin, Brecht, Goethe, Kleist, Michaux and Jaccottet. He lives in Oxford.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Comma Press
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Published on
Sep 19, 2019
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781912697243
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
Fiction / Short Stories (single author)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Taking place nearly a century before the events of A Game of Thrones, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms compiles the first three official prequel novellas to George R. R. Martin’s ongoing masterwork, A Song of Ice and Fire.
 
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY LOS ANGELES TIMES AND BUZZFEED
 
These never-before-collected adventures recount an age when the Targaryen line still holds the Iron Throne, and the memory of the last dragon has not yet passed from living consciousness. Before Tyrion Lannister and Podrick Payne, there was Dunk and Egg. A young, naïve but ultimately courageous hedge knight, Ser Duncan the Tall towers above his rivals—in stature if not experience. Tagging along is his diminutive squire, a boy called Egg—whose true name is hidden from all he and Dunk encounter. Though more improbable heroes may not be found in all of Westeros, great destinies lay ahead for these two . . . as do powerful foes, royal intrigue, and outrageous exploits.
 
Featuring more than 160 all-new illustrations by Gary Gianni, A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms is a must-have collection that proves chivalry isn’t dead—yet.

Praise for A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

“Readers who already love Martin and his ability to bring visceral human drama out of any story will be thrilled to find this trilogy brought together and injected with extra life.”—Booklist

“The real reason to check out this collection is that it’s simply great storytelling. Martin crafts a living, breathing world in a way few authors can. . . . [Gianni’s illustrations] really bring the events of the novellas to life in beautiful fashion.”—Tech Times

“Stirring . . . As Tolkien has his Silmarillion, so [George R. R.] Martin has this trilogy of foundational tales. They succeed on their own, but in addition, they succeed in making fans want more.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Pure fantasy adventure, with two of the most likable protagonists George R. R. Martin has ever penned.”—Bustle

“A must-read for Martin’s legion of fans . . . a rousing prelude to [his] bestselling Song of Ice and Fire saga . . . rich in human drama and the colorful worldbuilding that distinguishes other books in the series.”—Publishers Weekly
David Constantine's Under the Dam was chosen as one of their Books of 2005 by both The Independent and The Guardian. See Press below.

"FLAWLESS AND UNSETTLING" - Boyd Tonkin, Books of the Year 2005, The Independent.

In the middle of a speech a businessman realises his soul has just left his body. In an Athens marketplace, a jealous lover finds himself staggering through a vision of hell. High in the Alps, a young woman’s body re-appears in the glacier, perfectly preserved, where she fell 50 years before.

Entering Constantine’s stories is like stepping out into a wind of words, a swarm of language. His prose is as fluid as the water that surges and swells through all his landscapes. Yet, against this fluidity, his stories are able to stop time, to freeze-frame each protagonist’s life just at the moment when the past breaks the surface, or when the present - like the dam of the title - collapses under its own weight.

“I started reading these stories quietly, and then became obsessed, read them all fast, and started re-reading them again and again. They are gripping tales, but what is startling is the quality of the writing. Every sentence is both unpredictable and exactly what it should be. Reading them is a series of short shocks of (agreeably envious) pleasure...”
– AS Byatt, Book of the Week, The Guardian

“A superb collection”
– Nicholas Royle, The Independent

“This is a haunting collection filled with delicate clarity. Constantine has a sure grasp of the fear and fragility within his characters.”
– A. L. Kennedy

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