The Shieling

Comma Press
Free sample

Tree-climbing students, volunteering soldiers, island-bound recluses... The characters in David Constantine’s remarkable new collection are united by an urge to absent themselves, to abscond from the intolerable pressures of normal life and withdraw into strange ideas, political causes, even private languages. Viewed from without, they appear sometimes absurd – like the vicar who starts conversing with the Devil when his wife leaves him – sometimes tragic – like the vision of a suicide being fished out of the River Irwell. Such is the force of Constantine’s compassion, however, we cannot help but follow each character deep into their isolation. And the further we descend, through the strata of each personal history, the ever-changing landscapes that bear down upon them, the more remarkable the discovery, at very bottom, that glimmers of redemption abide; like the babbling springs uncovered in the scars of a quarry that will one day heal it with a lake, or the secret haven of the title story, offering more than physical refuge, but a safe-house for dreams. By the winner of the BBC National Short Story Prize 2010 Shortlisted for the 2010 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award
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About the author

Born in Salford in 1944, David Constantine worked for thirty years as a university teacher of German language and literature. He has published several volumes of poetry, most recently, Nine Fathom Deep (2009). He is a translator of Hölderlin, Brecht, Goethe, Kleist, Michaux and Jaccottet. In 2003 his translation of Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s Lighter than Air won the Corneliu M Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation. His translation of Goethe’s Faust, Part I was published by Penguin in 2005; Part II in April 2009. He is also author of one novel, Davies, and Fields of Fire: A Life of Sir William Hamilton. His four short story collections are Back at the Spike, the highly acclaimed Under the Dam (Comma, 2005), and The Shieling (Comma, 2009), which was shortlisted for the 2010 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Constantine’s story ‘Tea at the Midland’ won the BBC National Short Story Award 2010.

The collection Tea at the Midland won the 2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Comma Press
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Published on
Dec 31, 2009
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Pages
234
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Short Stories (single author)
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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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

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
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