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Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance (Signed by author)

Kneale, Matthew

228 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0330435345 / ISBN 13: 9780330435345
Published by Picador, 2005
Condition: Near Fine Hardcover
From Monroe Street Books (Middlebury, VT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

277 pages, SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. Very clean and tight copy. Record # 455817. Bookseller Inventory # 455817

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance (Signed ...

Publisher: Picador

Publication Date: 2005

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

About this title

Synopsis:

In his gripping new work, Matthew Kneale takes us on a journey around today's uncertain world. From England to South America, China to the Middle East, the United States to Africa, Kneale applies his gifts as a master storyteller, vividly capturing the lives of ordinary people as they struggle to live, and to do the right thing, often managing neither. From a smugly well-intentioned English family who leave their tour group in China to travel alone, and slowly becoming complicit in its violence, to a ploddingly respectable London lawyer who chances upon a stash of cocaine and discovers it offers the wealth and status he hungers for, to a self-doubting suicide bomber, Matthew Kneale transports readers across frontiers in an instant. He sets the foreign and the familiar side by side, and in doing so challenges our understanding of both. By turns painful, moving and wickedly funny, "Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance" gains momentum until the world seems to be revealed to us in a new way. This is a groundbreaking work by a master of the uncertainties of our time.

Review:

Fans of Matthew Kneale's historical saga, English Passengers, which won the 2000 Whitbread Book of the Year Award and was short-listed for the Booker Prize, be forewarned. A short story collection, such as Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance, is very different. That said, relax and enjoy the fact that Matthew Kneale has mastered both genres. This collection of 12 stories is unified and bound thematically by the portrayal of people on the cusp of a new awareness of the trajectory of their lives, or by a moment or event that changes the equation for them. The stories take place all over the world: China, Ethiopia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America. For some, it is the dislocation of being in a strange place that causes the introspection necessary for change. For others, no external change takes place, but the interior landscape is forever altered.

In the first story, "Stone," a conventional English family, used to traveling with a "tour firm," goes off on their own with dire consequences, not for themselves, but for a hapless young man they think stole from them. This isn't a language problem; it is cultural difference writ large. In "Leaves," gringo planes spray pesticide destroying most of the crops in a Colombian valley, forcing relocation on those who live there. One family is saved by their old grandfather who steals coca plants, the only crop that was saved, from a neighbor. In "Metal," an arms supplier from Great Britain is caught up in a demonstration in Africa, bloodied with a nightstick and brought face to face with violence and terrorism. The morning after, awakening in the safety of his hotel, "He knew, without a shadow of doubt, that his life would never be the same. He would give up his job. He would change everything." But, does he? The final story, "White," is one that will not be forgotten. A young Palestinian suicide bomber, with explosives strapped to his body, makes his way to Tel Aviv to kill himself and as many people as possible. He is crippled by doubt and fear as he recalls his brother's call from Canada telling him of his new life there and inviting him to join him.

Kneale has captured in these stories the complexity of the world and the ways that people cope--or not--showcasing situations of moral ambiguity where roads not taken make all the difference. --Valerie Ryan

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