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Live Show, Drink Included
Collected Stories

Vicky Grut

Average Review Rating Average Rating 8/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Holland Park Press

Published : 2018

Copyright : name 2018

ISBN-10 : PB 1-907320-79-2
ISBN-13 : PB 978-1-907320-79-8

Publisher's Write-Up

Each of the 14 stories feels like a short novel. Vicky Grut has taken inspiration from a range of often ordinary situations and shows how easily things can unravel. They veer from the realistic to the surreal, nothing is quite what it seems, and Vicky's original way of observation is a revelation.

These collected stories make you ponder about who is in control of one's destiny. The stories form a series of metaphors covering different aspects of life, and the closing story about the ultimate end is very moving.

To give you a flavour of what they are like here are a few snippets: In Rich, two young people travelling towards Florence just after the Bologna bombing of 1980, decide to cadge a meal and a bed for the night from a girl they barely know. In the early hours of the morning, the atmosphere suddenly changes. They are in over their heads. In Mistaken, an academic is mistaken for a shop assistant in a big London department store. When she reacts impulsively she finds herself in trouble. Help comes from an unlikely quarter - and for all the wrong reasons. In Downsizing, Julianne and Tom are all that remain of their company's department of Policy and Evaluation. Julianne reads management theory and they exchange faintly erotic phone calls while they work on their organisational review, until Julianne has a visionary idea. In Live Show, Drink Included, two young people on a day-trip to London decide to see a Soho sex-show, obsessed with getting a free drink, they are in for a surprise. In Into the Valley, a woman tries to comfort her suffering mother-in-law on ward 19 in a small hospital in Wales. Underneath the ward sign it says, in English and in Welsh, `Bereavement Office / Swyddfa Profedigaeth.' There probably isn't a ward 20.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Ben Macnair (310121) Rating (8/10)

Review by Ben Macnair
Book Source: Not Known
Rating 8/10

All life is in the 14 stories contained within the 170 pages of Live Show Drink Included. There is romance at all of its stages, jobs won and jobs lost, people at the end of their rope, or the beginning of a new phase in life, people dying, and the broader repercussions that has on their family and friends.

In The Current Climate looks at the effect on a workforce during a recession, and the sudden interruption of security officers escorting office manager Elaine from the office. A takeover has changed the dynamic of the office, and whatever Elaine has been up to, no good can ever come of it.

Debts examines the impact an unwelcome envelope can have, and during an uncomfortable family gathering, things quickly escalate, until an agreement of sorts is reached.

In Escape Artist a struggling actor is offered an exciting, lucrative opportunity, but has to weigh up the cost and toll it will take up in the rest of her life.

The title story, Live Show, Drink Included is about a couple, enjoying a trip to London, and finding a show that doesn’t live up to anyone’s expectations of the theatre.

Saucers of Secrets is set in a book publisher, and a lowly worker has a book, and an author foisted on her by management. The story looks at the love of literature, and story-telling, whilst also intricately weaving in other elements of human behaviour.

Stranger is a very short story that examines what happens when two strangers meet on the top deck of a bus.

Visitors looks at the unfulfilled life of Hazel, a single mother who named her son Brando, and looks to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton for guidance in her downtrodden life.

On The Way to the Church is a story about a couple travelling, only to be waylaid by a friend’s record collection.

Emotionally, the last story in the collection, Into the Valley packs the biggest punch. Grace is dying, and as her daughter in law visits her in the last week of her life, we see a lifetime of love, tender caring and regret unfolding.

The stories are all well written and hang together very well as a collection. There is pathos, and humour here, as the stories examine the pleasures and pains of life in new and increasingly unusual ways.
Ben Macnair (31st January 2021)

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