Review | Book review: Sex & Death is a diverse, challenging anthology
Contemporary authors, including Li Yiyun, Ben Marcus and Jon McGregor, deliver a collection of 20 memorable short stories worth savouring
Edited by Sarah Hall and Peter Hobbs
Faber & Faber
Sex & Deathis a collection of 20 short stories by intriguing contemporary authors. Alongside the editors, excellent novelists in their own right, we have Li Yiyun, Ali Smith, Ben Marcus, Damon Galgut, Jon McGregor, Petina Gappah and Alan Warner. My favourites are Marcus’ hilarious tale about a man named George coming to terms with his father’s death. His therapist is no help: “So you feel incapable of surprise at the sexual level?” George’s response could be summed up as: “Sex with sad people was something that could still deliver.” McGregor also knows the value of a memorable line: “When I first met God I was desperate and lost, and my balls were leaping about within me from the lack of use.” In Li’s excellent The Days After Love, Lilia Imbody is a thrice-married senior citizen interviewed by two schoolchildren who get more than they bargained for. “Everybody dies. It is not up to you or me to say when,” she says. Shared loss closes the generation gap between Lilia and her male inquisitor until the cold-eyed conclusion: “The days after love are bound to be long and empty.” Diverse, challenging and quite sexy, an anthology to be savoured.