SCOTTISH AUTHOR Alison Louise (A.L.) Kennedy has published more than a dozen story collections and novels. She is also a columnist, a stand-up comic, a writer of radio drama, and a teacher of creative writing. Whatever the medium, her work is immediately recognizable for its dark humor, both sharply mordant and profoundly compassionate.
Kennedy’s fiction favors characters in difficult times, deceived and deceiving, self-seeking, self-deluded, self-destructive, entirely complicit in their own suffering — yet somehow also, in their brokenness, entirely sympathetic. Fellow Scot Ali Smith once described Kennedy as “the laureate of good hurt.”
Her recent collection, All the Rage, is a book of 12 love stories for grown-ups. With an unerring, unflinching sense of detail, Kennedy depicts intensely awkward, intimate moments: disposing of a condom, an inappropriate touch on a first date in middle age, an interaction with an overenthusiastic salesperson in a sex toy shop. But the quirks and ticks, the private pain and shame of her characters, are treated as ordinary, and in this way Kennedy’s portraits are both revelation and benediction — to be deeply flawed, these stories suggest, is to be deeply human.
Claire Cameron: You have a wonderful way of connecting the mundane with the profound — how a first kiss can completely transform the most banal of objects or moments into something intimate and strangely beautiful.
A.L. Kennedy: I think the job of writing, or art in general, would certainly be to at least try to do that. And I think being in love heightens your awareness — or can — and so everything takes on more significance. And certainly the object of one’s affection becomes entirely un-mundane, even if everyone else can’t quite see what you’re making a fuss about.
Read the full interview at the Los Angeles Review of Books.