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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of So Late in the Day: Stories of Women and Men by Claire Keegan

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Claire Keegan is one of my favorite writers; in these three stories, she builds layered situations--and then turns them on their heads, in fascinating fashion.

Down on the lawns, some people were out sunbathing and there were children, and beds plump with flowers; so much of life carrying smoothly on, despite the tangle of human upsets and the knowledge of how everything must end.

In the brilliant, Irish-born Claire Keegan's newest slim story collection, she explores gender dynamics and defied expectations, and she considers what might be or might have been between the sexes.

Three stories written during various eras in Keegan's career are revised and expanded here: "Antarctica" (which appears in the previously published short story collection Antarctica) explores a married woman's curiosity about being with another man; "The Long and Painful Death" follows a writer at a retreat who faces a headstrong fellow writer; and in "So Late in the Day," a man reflects on what might have been with his lost love, had he made different choices.

These disparate stories showcase Keegan's perfectly spare, captivating storytelling; her writing feels to me like long-form poetry in its striking, unexpected, yet precise language and its evocative power.

Each of Keegan's three stories builds a layered situation and then turns it on its head; a wisp of a moment, a careless remark, or a premeditated change sets the course of a day or a life on a dramatically different trajectory, and it's fascinating to read as various unravelings begin and build momentum.

Keegan is one of my favorite authors, and I'm in for all of her books.

I received a prepublication edition of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Grove Press.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Click here to read my rave reviews of Claire Keegan's novels Foster and Small Things Like These and her short story collection Antarctica.

You might also want to check out the short story collections listed in my Greedy Reading Lists Six Short Story Collections to Wow You and Six More Short Story Collections I Loved.


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