9780375707476 / 0375707476

Everything You Need: A Novel





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About the book:

Everything You Need, the new novel by Scottish writer AL Kennedy, is the story of Nathan Staples, a self-sabotaging, depleted novelist who lives in a writer's colony where he dreams of reunion with his estranged wife, Maura, and his daughter, Mary, who he's not seen for 15 years. Nathan contrives to have Mary, now 19, invited to join the colony where he can mentor her literary progress without telling her who he is. Mary, an independent and open young woman, has been lovingly raised by an extraordinary gay couple and is more than able to withstand Nathan's bullying irascibility and possessive, confused desire. Kennedy brilliantly teases out the dilemmas and dramas of his subterfuge as he attempts to redeem himself. Nathan, Mary and the five other writers are beautifully drawn and their claustrophobic reliance on each other is touching, cruel and true. Kennedy has a delightful ability to stretch words to new effect. The expressive tenderness in her handling of love, loss and recovery is robust, bracing and sometimes quaint. As Nathan teaches Mary how to avoid his mistakes, how to welcome "the anxious flex of ready words", Kennedy is clever to steer clear of the hackneyed dangers of author-prodigy dynamics and swerves into murkier emotional scapes. Despite a baggy middle and an underwriting of Maura, this is a splendid epic tale of the tricky and terrifying demands of love and of writing itself. --Cherry Smyth

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