Cockfosters: Stories (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)

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A Boston Globe Best Book of the Year

In these nine virtuoso stories, Helen Simpson turns her wickedly wry wit to the stations of life, the vulnerabilities of age, and the lives of ordinary people in complicated times. The title story follows two old friends as they ride the London Underground to Cockfosters—the end of the line—to retrieve a pair of newly prescribed bifocals. “Erewhon” depicts a reversal of gender roles as a man lies awake in bed fretting about his body shape, his dissatisfaction with sex, his children, and his role in his marriage. And in “Berlin,” a fiftysomething couple embarks on a “Ring Cycle package” trip to Germany, recalling the ups and downs of their life together as they make their way through Wagner’s epic. Funny, warmhearted, and deeply insightful, these tales brilliantly balance devastation and optimism as only Helen Simpson can.

About the Author

Helen Simpson is the author of five previous collections of short stories. She spent five years writing for Vogue. Simpson is the recipient of the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and lives in London with her husband.

Praise For…

“Memorable characters, comic timing, originality, economy and poignancy. . . . The reader thanks Simpson’s eye and ear for such generosity.” —The New York Times Book Review

“England’s best living short-story writer.” —The Boston Globe

“Powerful. . . . The warmth and humour of Simpson’s writing is coupled with a sharp-eyed clarity and a steady gift for the descriptive detail.” —Financial Times
“Tenderly measured, and entirely human. It’s this tightrope balance between our outer lives and inner expanses that continues to make her writing sing.” —The Guardian

“Wonderful. . . . A vital (and pleasurable) voice. . . . Her understated yet insightful conjuring of characters’ pains and fears strikes to the icy core of universal truths.” —The Independent on Sunday

“Elegant fable-like pieces. . . . Truthful, funny and sharp. . . . Gently ground-breaking.” —The Sunday Times (London)

“Reading Simpson’s stories makes you feel less alone in the world.” —Literary Review

“Remarkable. . . . Joy and its flipside, pain, are frequently glimpsed together . . . Simpson has a fine ear for the cadence of everyday speech and for the truths that may lie behind the most mundane of expressions.” —The Times Literary Supplement (London)

“Witty, hilarious and deeply discomfiting.” —The Spectator

“Uplifting and sensitive tales. . . . Examines the preoccupations of middle-age—jobs, ageing, friendship—with warmth, wit and breathtaking artistry.” —Daily Mail

“Witty, incandescent. . . . Invigorating and inspiring.” —New York Journal of Books

“Far-reaching and timeless, addressing matters of loyalty and mortality that are universal and deeply human. Simpson’s stories pack a quiet emotional power that extends beyond their pages.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Universal insights arise out of the ordinary. . . . With wit and keen perception, [Simpson] tackles the cultural assumptions, versus true experience, of middle age in everyday situations.” —Booklist

Product Details
ISBN: 9780525563624
ISBN-10: 0525563628
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: September 4th, 2018
Pages: 192
Language: English
Series: Vintage Contemporaries