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The sweet agony of connection

Kathy Page explores interpersonal intimacy in The Two of Us

The internet has allowed for anyone who writes to consider themselves ‘authors.’ While this creates a greater platform for self expression, oftentimes writing found on Facebook or Instragram falls into the trap of cheesy quotes or bad haikus. However, Kathy Page, a british novelist and short story writer, is someone who can proudly call herself a modern author. Her most recent work, The Two of Us, published recently by Biblioasis, is a collection of short stories that proves her undeniable writing skills.

Each short story in The Two of Us explores aspects of a specific interpersonal relationship. Page analyzes, for instance, the relationship between a mother and her gay son, a hairdresser and his ill client, two teenagers in love, a teacher and her student, and a girl and a fox. Each relationship exhibits different psychological and emotional characteristics. Throughout the stories, Page keeps a consistent style of writing in order to achieve a sense of cohesion. However, she also manages to hop from one story to the next without neglecting nuance.

[Her] stories embolden us to focus on the human desire for intimacy and connection.

Page is capable of putting herself in other people’s shoes. When you read these short stories, you forget they’re even fiction. The author also knows how to avoid stereotypes, which makes The Two of Us both refreshing and true to life. Instead, the stories embolden us to focus on the human desire for intimacy and connection – an underlying element that ties the book together and makes it ultimately relatable on a thematic level.

The Two of Us has been longlisted for the 2016 Giller Prize. Here are some highlights from the book.

“The Last Cut”

It’s sometimes hard to imagine that you can open up to a stranger. Your hairdresser might not be a complete stranger, especially if you see them regularly, but you wouldn’t necessarily open up to them about your long battle against cancer. Or would you? In “The Last Cut,” Page presents the story of Eric, a professional hairdresser who can’t wait to go home from work every day, until one of his clients, Mrs. Swenson, insists on taking a last minute appointment. Eric is at first irritated, but when he sees how tired and sick Mrs.Swenson looks, he senses that something must be wrong. Later, when Mrs. Swenson opens up about her condition, Eric realizes that this would be her last hair cut. He stops looking forward to going home early and comes face to face with the precarity of life.

“Sweet Agony”

“Sweet Agony” is one of the shortest stories from the collection. Page proves that you sometimes don’t need to write a very detailed and long story to describe a loving relationship and evoke an emotional response. It describes two lovebirds making love on a hot day of summer while no one’s home. The story evokes the feeling of nervousness, confusion and awkwardness surrounding being intimate with one’s childhood crush.

“The House on Manor Close”

The interesting element of this story is that the author presents three different point of views. Three sisters describe their relationships with each other and with their parents, allowing Page to work with different voices and to analyze different personalities and emotions within one household. Every sister relates to her parents in a unique way that at times incites conflict, but the sisters all recognize the need to move past those differences due to the shared bond of familial love.

The Two of Us is $19.95 and available for purchase at Biblioasis’s website.