By Hamish Johnston
This week BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime is presenting five short stories by James Lasdun — an Englishman who lives in upstate New York.
Last night’s story Cranley Meadows was about two physicists (or maybe astronomers) who are married and about to become parents for the first time. You can listen to it here
Although the characters are rife with stereotypes — she was his student; he is a fifty-something Russian emigre and refusenik; and the college where he had taught has been forced to trim its academic offering — I suspect the stereotypes would only be obvious to physicists and academics.
The story is set in an observatory on a cold autumn evening and looks at his struggle to find a new academic job, her apprehensions about becoming a mother, and the chasm that has opened between their respective expectations.
And like the other stories I heard this week, the ending is a corker. Indeed, from what I have heard so far, Lasdun’s writing evokes Alice Munro and John Cheever — not bad company.
The stories come from his latest collection It’s Beginning To Hurt , which is published next week.