The Joy-Ride and After

The Joy-Ride and After

A. L. Barker

Short Stories / Literary Fiction

The Joy-Ride and After was A.L. Barker's third collection of shorter pieces, first published in 1963. It offers three novellas, linked by certain recurrent characters and by their variations on the themes of loneliness and insecurity.The first tells of what has led to a young garage-hand 'borrowing' his employer's car, and of the disastrous consequences that ensue. In the second, a betrayed wife loses her memory after an accident, and finds herself on a barge with an old reprobate. The third concerns the tribulations of a canteen manager who has an inscrutable boss and an extravagant wife. Whether they live in slum tenement or suburban semi-detached, these 'ordinary' people become alive and phenomenal to us through the force and sympathy of Barker's imagination.
Read online
  • 37
The Haunt

The Haunt

A. L. Barker

Short Stories / Literary Fiction

Originally published in 1999, The Haunt, set in a seedy, decaying hotel on the Cornish coast, was to be the final entry in A.L. Barker's brilliant fifty-year writing career.'The Haunt is the novel that A. L. Barker had just finished [in 1998] when she was struck down by a disabling illness... [It] is probably her best... It is an examination of what being haunted means, and whether we can do anything about it. Auden once said that there is nothing to be done about it. We must sit it out. This is grim advice. But if A. L. Barker is saying this too - and I think she is - she doesn't say it grimly. She says it lightly, not cynically but hilariously. She understands that there can be pleasure alongside unease: the delicious first stirrings of infidelity, the comforts of offered love to the old and ridiculous. She knows us all.' Jane Gardam,Spectator
Read online
  • 31
John Brown's Body

John Brown's Body

A. L. Barker

Short Stories / Literary Fiction

'An extraordinary achievement.' A. S. ByattJohn Brown's Body, first published in 1969, was A.L. Barker's fourth novel and was shortlisted for the second annual Booker Prize in 1970.Marise Tomelty is the young wife of a travelling salesman, who dislikes sex and is terrified of open spaces. Ralph Shilling, a dealer in pesticides, lives in the flat above the Tomeltys'. One day Marise's husband casually mentions that he recognizes Ralph as John Brown: a man acquitted, for lack of evidence, of the gruesome double murder of two sisters. Nevertheless, Marise encourages Ralph's attentions, intoxicated by a heady mix of passion and fear.'She is formidable, and from a bare corner of human relations gathers a rich harvest.' Adam Mars-Jones'It would be hard to find anyone who chooses words more exactly or constructs with more precision.' Penelope Fitzgerald
Read online
  • 28