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~Free ☯ Small Crimes in an Age of Abundance ☰ The author of the award winning novel English Passengers takes readers around the world in twelve deftly crafted stories that illuminate the uncertainties of life at home and abroad.Matthew Kneale received high praise for the prize winning English Passengers, an epic romp on the high seas and across nineteenth century cultures, ingeniously woven together by a multitude of narrators In Small Crimes In An Age of Abundance, Kneale brings his mastery of storytelling to our present morally ambiguous world Set in lands ranging from England to China, South America, the Middle East, and Africa, these powerfully themed stories follow ordinary people as they try to survive and make sense of their worlds.We follow a well intentioned English family who leave their tour group in China to travel alone, and collide with the ruthless side of the country, slowly becoming complicit in its violence a ploddingly respectable London lawyer who chances upon a stash of cocaine and realizes it offers the wealth and status he hungers for a salesman in Africa who becomes caught up in a riot that turns his life upside down a self doubting suicide bomber.Kneale transports readers across continents in a nanosecond, reaching to the heart of faraway societies with rare perceptiveness As the stories gain momentum tense, funny, and always compassionate they make readers see the world in a new way At times reminiscent of Julian Barnes s A History of the World in 10 1 2 Chapters, at times Primo Levi s The Periodic Table, Small Crimes In An Age of Abundance is a groundbreaking book, by a master narrator of the uncertainties of our time From the Hardcover edition.
Only read the first one or two stories Don t really feel inspired to read. Matthew Kneale is a powerful writer with the ability to immediately draw in the reader to the worlds of his characters The stories he tells are all widely divergent in place but each are meticulously presented with casual intimacy and startling detail Moral dilemmas,ethical lapses, choice points and long term consequeces are all covered here.Kneale has a delicious sense of irony and his liquid prose is unflinching He neither apologizes nor turns away from the absurd and ultimately endearing attempts of his players to reconcile abberent behaviors, shining a light into the wavery depths of human nature. Some stories are really interesting, such as Stone , Powder , Sound and White Stone and White being the most powerful ones in my opinion They show how one small action, as small as an angry look, can change things and have such consequences for you or the people around MAkes you want to think things through a little bit , and not judge people too quickly. Amazing New favourite book and author One of the best collections of short stories I ve read in a long time. Having read a lot of short fiction over the years, I was very impressed with this collection It is on par in terms of storytelling with Andre Dubus and to me that is elite company These stories are compelling and have wonderfully vivid characters As good as any collection I ve read recently and better than most. SMALL crimes can have big consequences, according to Matthew Kneale.Kneale studied history at Oxford in his native England.Among his books are two historical novels, one of which, EnglishPassengers, won the Whitbread Book of the Year in 2000.He also has a penchant for travel, which shows in his new collection of short fiction The 12 stories are set in England, China and Italy, among other places.His main characters are ordinary people Each makes an all too human mistake, assumption, or flat out lie that ripples through the rest of the story And Kneale likes to play the reader s sympathies for the characters against one another.In Stone, the Winter family, envious of their neighbours self guided vacations, embark on an adventurous trip through China The overconfident Mr Winter quickly gets them lost in an area where almost no one speaks English.An eccentric local dubbed Eeyore takes them under his wing, but when some of Mrs Winter s jewels go missing, he becomes the prime suspect After wrangling with the local police, who are all too eager to lock up Eeyore if it will make their town seem tourist friendly, the Winters realize the jewels were buried in their luggage.But by this time, Eeyore has confessed to the police, and in order to leave town, the Winters must sign a statement that they saw him do it which they didn t Rather than lose even vacation time, they sign it and get on with their trip, leaving Eeyore to his fate.The notion of ethics figures prominently in Kneale s stories, and the irony is often piercing.In Powder, Peter Pelham, a mediocre London solicitor, comes across a bag full of cocaine and a cellphone ringing with customers After prolonged indecision, Peter keeps the bag.Later, he sells some then he gets his wife in on it and so forth, until they catch their children at a party they re making a delivery to It s a beautifully awkward moment, as the Pelhams fume at their own hypocrisy.The collection strikes a balance between humour and tragedy Kneale puts the reader in the shoes of an overjealous newlywed, a frustrated author, an arms dealer, a tribeswoman with a dying child, and many others.For all their faults, the characters are people we can laugh at, care about and fear for Kneale fleshes out a few details, using dialogue sparingly, yet the portraits are convincing.The book ends with the chilling White, which puts a human face on a suicide bombing Knowing what Yunis, the main character, intends doesn t stop the reader from understanding his motives and hoping that he will somehow find a way to avoid going through with it.An engaging collection, Small Crimes will have the reader snickering at its characters one moment, and taking a long look in the mirror the next.Originally published in the Winnipeg Free Press, Sunday, March 25, 2005 few good ones herechina tourist, misreported crime missing jewels living with consequence when apparent thief executed middle class middle aged man falls into drug dealing some others seem thrown together the villa renovation the bombereach story had a single turning point almost different versions of one concept This is such an excellent collection to read while traveling His characters make decisions based on fear, comfort, self aggrandizement and ignorance, and it s fascinating to read how things unfold from each unreliable narrator s perspective Amazing how travel can often bring out the worst in us, even when we think we re doing our best Kneale is now included in my list of amazing short story writers I need to get my hands on his other books PS Thanks, Iris, for lending me this book on the stinky rickety Sapa Hanoi train 90% of this was a fabulous read, not that I d want to be any if Kneale s characters of course, always coming a cropper once they venture outside their sphere of safety he s an eloquent story teller and seems perfectly at home setting these tales in china, Ethiopia, Israel or the US simply splendid little potted tales for the commute home.