A.L. Kennedy   Original Bliss  
A.L. Kennedy    
So I Am Glad: a preview

Original Bliss: an excerpt

  Already considered one of Scotland's national treasures, thirty-three year old A.L. Kennedy was introduced to American readers only this year, with her widely praised novel Original Bliss. Now, with six awards under her belt, and a list of fans that includes Salman Rushdie, Richard Ford, A.S. Byatt, and Jonathan Coe, Kennedy has established herself as a writer of startling originality and invention, who brings an element of surprise to themes of isolation, emotional destitution, passion, perversion, and true love.

One of Kennedy's greatest gifts is her ability to take emotional truths and makes them literal, to great comedic effect. Original Bliss describes an excruciatingly awkward courtship between two soul-sick people--one pathologically shy, the other an exhibitionist obsessed with pornography--who find in each other a way to break out of their isolation. Her next novel, So I Am Glad (forthcoming from Knopf in January 2000) tells the story of an emotionally paralyzed young woman who finds herself falling in love with a man who claims to be--and perhaps is--the ghost of Cyrano de Bergerac. In both Original Bliss and So I Am Glad, such peculiarities are a matter of course, and they resonate with unexpected familiarity. In Kennedy's fictional universe, we are all misfits; the conditions of her characters lives--the painful movement toward connection in Original Bliss, the displaced ghost wandering the world trying to remember who he is and the comically self-protected young woman who cannot feel anything at all until she surrenders herself to the apparition of a great love in So I Am Glad--are merely the conditions of our own lives made visible, revealed with compassion, affection, and tremendous style.

In this issue of Bold Type you'll find an excerpt from Original Bliss and an exclusive preview of Kennedy's next novel, So I Am Glad.

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  Photo of A.L. Kennedy copyright © Brian Tarr

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