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Because I Don't Know What You Mean and What You Don't

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I’m still out on tour with my show Re-Enchantment until the end of September too, if you fancy seeing my stand up! Like Carver, Long is brilliant at writing her characters' interactions with the humdrum material world around them: its everyday objects; grubbiness, wear and tear; the existential despair that, for most of us, these are the only tools we have to excavate life's meanings. So during the pandemic when I really couldn’t gig, I realised that I was allowed to cycle to the empty offices of Arts Emergency, and that I could use that as a workspace.

It was affable rather than acerbic; and if I had a criticism it would be that there was a whimsical “nice to be nice” vibe about it all, to quote both Dylan Thomas and the chief in M*A*S*H.What You Don’t] had a really long genesis, even though I’ve only written the stories in the last couple of years,” says Long, “When I was at university I really thought, ‘This is what I’m going to do with my life. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. If you choose the Book + In-Person Audience option, this will include a signed copy of the featured book which you can collect from the venue on the night of the event.

This is an excellent collection of stories, a selection that packs a powerful punch in bitesize chunks. Now I’m getting shit from the far right and Terfs [trans-exclusionary radical feminists],” she says – with her support for charity Mermaids making her a public target for anti-trans crusader Graham Linehan, before his eventual Twitter ban. There are also times you want Long to imbue important moments with more detail, and slow the pace, so the reader can really feel what's being portrayed.

Like overhearing excerpts from relatable people’s lives in a cafe, this was a pleasure to listen to - maybe a bit of a council estate Bennet Talking Heads for the next generation, and better?

The best stories absolutely succeed on their own terms; others show potential; a handful, I think, could have been reworked or developed or even put aside to allow the collection to better display its strengths. There are issues of identity, and memories, including a boy's troubled relationship with his father, a forgotten memory surfaces of his abusive father from when he was a toddler. It was very provocative and unnerving at times how the one's presentation is manipulation or a defense mechanism and how one's thoughts do not equal what they expose to the world.Come down the travelators, exit Sainsbury's, turn right and follow the pedestrianised walkway to Crown Walk and turn right - and Coles will be right in front of you. These are the stories where Long fully explores the characters' world and teases its complexities out, giving the protagonist and the reader moments of epiphany. Here we have a range of offbeat and punchy vignettes which each offer a 'slice of life' insight into the various characters' lives and human experiences.

Standouts - in the sense that I remember them most - are the story in which a woman's abusive former partner moves nearby with his new wife and child; the young boy torn between two sides of his family; the two stories Poets Rise and Poets Rise Again, which can't really be adequately described and need to be read. As that passage suggests, it certainly has the keen eye you'd expect from an acclaimed stand-up (see also: the women's partners all being "The type of thirty-eight-year-olds who run a techno label"), but laughs are in short supply. It sort of coincided with my ADHD diagnosis because I got there and yet I still couldn’t get anything fucking done. the collection's standout story for me, follows the survivor of an abusive relationship after her abuser moves into her neighbourhood almost two decades later.Because I Don't Know What You Mean and What You Don't is a collection of short stories which, for me, sums up why I love short stories. Part of the strategy seems to be to insist that this is not “made up stuff”, but is happening to real people in the real world. There is an overarching theme of female anxiety, especially felt in the story where the young woman meets up with her ex-boyfriend, but I didn’t relate to the majority of the characters. I'm half amazed that a thought, a way of looking at something can just sit unchallenged, unexamined, for twenty years before you can take a look at it and realise that it's junk. Each tale paints a life in miniature and offers an escape chute from the catastrophes of modern life.

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