The Only Living Boy

Raymond Carver’s Häagen-Dazs habit… Julie Christie in a flying saucer quoting The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band… Little Richard’s shiny suit… huge tigers in small urban gardens… a Frank Sinatra impersonator who works in a sandwich shop…

Robert Graham’s heartwarming, quirky stories concern men and women in and out of love.  Boys glimpse what it means to be men, men struggle to grow out of being boys, and their obsessions – girls, cars, pop culture – are pinned to the page like specimen butterflies.  Some of these stories expose our yearnings for what was and what can never be, the elusiveness of romance, while others touch on the quest for meaning in life and the challenge of our own mortality.

The dozen page-turning stories collected here feature a reality more magical than the one we know and are funny, affecting and uplifting.  Picture this as the place where Anne Tyler’s fictional world meets Nick Hornby’s, and you’ll be some of the way there.

“Robert Graham writes about desire and disappointment and coming to terms – and ultimately about hope. His eye for the epiphanic moment is sharp and unblinking, his witty, well-turned prose always a source of pleasure.”
Nicholas Royle

“Read it and be entertained, then read it again and ponder the meaning of life. You’re sure to recognise your wandering heart in these pages”
Vicky Deiderfield

“What strikes me most about these stories is their wit, not just in the sense that they are often witty, and funny, but in the old-fashioned sense of the word: they display a high degree of verbal dexterity. There’s no room in the short story for the wasted word, and Graham wastes none.
If you want to be entertained, amused, intrigued, and occasionally challenged to reflect on life’s iniquities, this volume will suit you well. Here’s an author at the top of his game. Recommended.”

Rob Spence

“Robert Graham’s short story collection is a delightful observation of the human psyche. Each story woven with a clarity and precision that is in no way clinical but tugs on the emotions. Meeting up with Sarah and Joe again, the main characters in Graham’s novel Holy Joe, was uncomfortable to say the least; the discord in their relationship is strongly felt but you will them to make a go of it every step of the way. I thought the narrator in Carcasses, an elderly female pensioner, was brilliantly realised. Seeing life through her eyes was a revelation – “Picture us, wearing our decaying flesh, crossing and re-crossing the pool like sluggardly dredgers passing across a bay.” My favourite has to be The Life Class – to me, it’s all about empowerment, seizing the moment and living life. A thoroughly enjoyable read.”

Jo Selley

“The mind of each protagonist – male or female, child or retiree – is at once entirely unique and resonantly familiar, and Graham’s knack for allowing us these characters’ thoughts with unabashed exposure and generosity of spirit brings to mind the kindly empathy of G.K Chesterton, and the charming, attentive narration of Neil Gaiman.” 

Jason Weight

Published by Salt 2009

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