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By John Boyne

During this choice of twelve darkish, unerring and excellent brief tales, John Boyne explores the extremities of the human situation in all its brilliance and brutality. The secrets and techniques we hold and the ways that they form us, the impossibility of shared loss, the lengths we'll visit with a purpose to safeguard our households and the space we'll run to guard ourselves.

Drawing on a bunch of mesmerizing characters – a farmer, a cuckold and exploring his sexuality; strong mom and dad, undesirable mom and dad, writers and infantrymen; a scholar, a lease boy and a hitman – Boyne examines the hopeful and the broken with out prejudice or judgement.

This, his first selection of brief tales, is a few of John Boyne’s best writing up to now. It contains ‘Rest Day’ which gained the 2015 brief tale of the 12 months award in eire.

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I could not resist the chance of that intoxicating conversation being renewed. The weekend was a success as far as I was concerned. There were others in the house, both male and female; most of whom seemed to adore him. ' But I did hero-worship him; and I was immensely relieved to find that he wasn't going to sulk or be bitter. After all, I wasn't the only pebble on his beach. A month or two later he suddenly fell ill, after I had gone abroad; and before I returned to England I heard, with shock and dismay, of his early death.

I once asked him whether he minded being 'done' like that. He replied thoughtfully: 'No, it don't 'urt. ' The straightforward, pagan coarseness of these boys was a constant delight to me, a contact with earthiness which I needed very badly, had already glimpsed in Berlin and was later to find in complete fulfilment among the boys I went with in Austria. My sensual relations with the young soldiers, however, were even more therapeutic because they took place in my own country and in my own language, and provided as great a contrast as possible with the highly educated world I had grown up in.

It was definitely considered bad form, in fact ridiculous, to show embarrassment or guilt about them, whether they were concerned with males or females. Perhaps this was to some extent due to the liberating influence of Bloomsbury, with which King's at least was permeated at the time. One or two of us were pursuing choristers or telegraph boys (in imagination), others young beauties of our own generation (with varying success), and only one, as far as I can remember, liked older men and had yielded to the importunities of a famous writer who used to visit Cambridge fairly frequently.

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