> Skip to content

A brilliant new collection from one of our finest story writers

The stories in this remarkable collection are vibrant, gripping and intricately worked, but they are more than simply small masterpieces of narrative art. James Lasdun’s other great gift is his unfailing psychological instinct for the vertiginous moments when the essence of a life discloses itself. With forensic skill he exposes his characters’ hidden desires and fears, drawing back the folds of their familiar self-delusions, their images of themselves, their habits and routines, to reveal them to themselves – and us – with brilliant clarity.

In sharply evoked settings that range from the wilds of Northern Greece to the beaches of Cape Cod, these intensely dramatic tales chart the metamorphoses of their characters as they fall prey to the gamut of human passions. The lives in them seethe with love, hate, desire, fear, tender corruption and cruel idealism. They rise to unexpected heights of decency, stumble into comic or tragic folly, they throw themselves open to lust, longing, paranoia – but they are alway


James Lasdun writes the best sort of English prose. It relaxes you, assuring you you're in good hands, while its sensitivity keeps you alert

Colin Greenland, Guardian

Lasdun is a good poet; his prose here is marked by a fine, thoughtful, humane exactness

Tom Deveson, The Sunday Times

Many writers aim to create work that is unsettling, or perhaps even painful - though not, usually, too painful to bear, at least during the actual reading of the tale. Few, however, do it so well as James Lasdun

John Burnside, The Times

A sobering study of how humans cope when under pressure. Lasdun's prose is undeniably sound. Ingenious sentences are strung together with ease

Theresa Munoz, Sunday Herald

Lasdun's novels succeed as efficient entertainment, narrowly focused, linguistically dextrous, coolly presenting their characters' foibles... His short stories relinquish none of this gamesmanship, yet they seem to expand where the novels contract... Their characters have a complexity and confusion that override the unfolding plot. And the narratives seem opened up to the entire history of fiction... touching...revelatory...devastating

Mark Kamine, Times Literary Supplement

short stories from a master prose miniaturist

New Stateman

These stories have been well made and have been carefully fitted together... undeniably classy

Sameer Rahim, Daily Telegraph

A wonderful writer

Irish Independent

Inhabits his characters with the seemingly effortless sympathy of the gifted realist writer... Deserves all the honours it is able to accrue: a better book of short stories will not be published this year

Kevin Power, The Irish Times

a collection whose seemingly ordinary surfaces conceal precipitous depths

Claire Allree, Metro

Highly intelligent, elegantly composed, darkly haunting and greatly moving, few writers could even hope to compare with Lasdun's literary brilliance


A good collection of short stories ought to be as enticing as a gift of fruit or flowers, even if the apple conceals a poison, the rose a canker. Few exponents of the short form offer such tempting, disturbing pleasures as James Lasdun.

Richard T Kelly, Financial Times

Striking collection of humane short stories.

Must reads, The Sunday Times

Reading Lasdun is like reading a sly collaboration between Kafka and Updike: elegant, acutely observed and utterly unflinching.

John Burnside, The Times

dark, exact and bitterly funny collection... sharp, thought-provoking and fiercely readable

Stuart Evers, Time Out

James Lasdun is probably the closest in recent years this country has come to a genuinely great practitioner of the short story


James Lasdun seems to me to be one of the secret gardens of English writing...when we read him we know what language is for

James Wood

A marvellous, masterful collection

LA Times

Lasdun specialises in capturing, with unnerving insight, the split seconds in which moods and emotions turn on triggers so fine and subtle that they're barely perceptible. He nails these moments perfectly, spiking the core of the microgram of fly in the ointment and thus catching the infinitesimal moment with startling perception

Leyla Sanai, www.rocksbackpagesblogs.com

Dealing with fear, love, hatred, insecurity, lust, guilt and shame, each story is linked by the author's incredibly incisive prose

Sunderland Echo

James Lasdun is one of those gifted writers who seems to have avoided the attention he deserves....It's Beginning to Hurt is, in places, the best story collection I have read since Tobias Wolff's Our Story Begins.


Lasdun's third collection of short stories is nothing short of a revelation... each story is raised to amazing heights by the author's incredibly incisive prose

Oldham Evening Chronicle

James Lasdun, poet, novelist, short story writer and Englishman turned American émigré, offers up permutations of suppressed inner turmoil

The List

There is something so rich and gripping in his prose that it simply elicits your attention... It's Beginning to Hurt is a collection to jump-start your imagination


A master of the form with the enthralling psychological subtleties

Guardian, Geoff Dyer

Precisely observed and chilling


Lasdun is a smart writer with an excellent sense of pace

Peter Scot, Daily Telegraph

Lasdun's prose is marked by a fine, thoughtful, humane exactness

Tom Deveson, The Sunday Times

Lasdun bravely identifies a profoundly anti-human aspect to environmental moralising to provide a study in embarrassment that made this reader wince

Chris Ross, Guardian

Superb... punchy, exhilarating collection

James Urquhart, Financial Times

Deft precise language, strong narratives and great emotional insight

Frances O'Rourke, Irish Times

Lasdun's characters from New York and the Sussex countryside create a world of objects and feelings that are rich, recognisable and yet elusive, marked by the thoughtful, and humane exactness of his prose

Sunday Times Summer Reading

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    April 15, 2010


    272 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Dymocks
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • The Nile
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    January 4, 2011

    Vintage Digital

    272 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
    • Google Play
    • Kobo

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Also by James Lasdun

The Fall Guy
Give Me Everything You Have
Water Sessions
The Siege
Seven Lies
The Horned Man
Landscape With Chainsaw
The Revenant


No Middle Name
Seven Stones to Stand or Fall
Men Without Women
Paris For One And Other Stories
The Pier Falls
The Shore
Uncommon Type
The Christmas Stocking and Other Stories
Star Wars: From a Certain Point of View
Homesick For Another World
The Start of Something
Snowdrift and Other Stories (includes three new recently discovered short stories)
The Tsar of Love and Techno
A Snow Garden and Other Stories
Make Something Up
Collected Stories
First Love, Last Rites
The Lemon Table
Great Dream Of Heaven