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
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.
The Things They Carried won France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize; it was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
An October Indie Next List “Great Reads” Pick
After the death of her beloved husband, Katrin, a literary biographer, picks her way through a trove of his letters and postcards, slowly piecing together the entirety of his life. Surprised by an unlikely chapter in his past that was never revealed during their marriage, Katrin sets off on a heartbreaking journey to discover the man she never fully knew.
"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