Wednesday 29 January 2014

In Pursuit by R E Kemp

Frank’s dying wish is to be spared from his carer. Ritchie looks for love online. 
Their stories bookend In Pursuit’s ten tales of growing old, growing up and growing young. A gripping and absorbing narrative of life, sex and love. 
Frank wants to die alone, but Jean has other ideas. Mike prefers the good old days when gay men really had something to fight about. At fifty-five, Jackie’s pretty pleased he can still bed a nineteen-year-old. John places an ad in The Farmer’s Journal looking for a male companion. Cathal’s relationship is threatened when his celebrity lover confesses all to a newspaper. Conor admits to his dying father he is gay, only for his father’s condition to stabilise. Ciarán hits rock bottom, until he sees John’s ad in The Farmer’s Journal. Scott’s on a high when he meets Ben, all he needs to do is tell his girlfriend. Traveller Ritchie realises he can be out and proud online – any other alternative is fatal. 
In Pursuit is a progressive journey built around the universal emotions of love, friendship and the pursuit of happiness and how this can shift over time for us all.

I don't read a great deal of short stories as I generally feel a little let down by them, sometimes they can feel a little rushed and unfinished.  However, when Rebecca Kemp, the author of In Pursuit contacted me to ask if I'd be interested in reading her collection of stories, I was intrigued enough by the description to say yes.    I'm really pleased that I did.   I have enjoyed this collection immensely.  Unlike the majority of short story collections that I've read before, I wasn't let down by any of them.  In Pursuit contains stories that are touching, believable and very well written.

Each story is set in modern-day Ireland and features a gay man, starting with Frankie aged 75 in the first tale and ending with Ritchie aged 19 in the very last.  The reader is taken on a journey across the country, from farms to cities, and with men from different generations.  On the surface these men are all very different, but underneath, each one of them is dealing with their own difficult personal issue - the one thing that joins them - their hidden sexuality.

These stories are gritty and down to earth, they are explicit in places but they are also heartfelt and the author writes with compassion and understanding.  The overwhelming feeling that emanates through each of these stories is that of fear and hidden pleasures and denial.

I was extremely impressed by this collection and am not surprised that In Pursuit was Winner 2013 Kerry's Eye Short Story Competition and has been longlisted for other prizes too.

Rebecca Kemp is an author to watch out for.   I must thank her for contacting me and giving me the opportunity to read and enjoy this fabulous collection.

In Pursuit was published independently in June 2013.  For more information about the author and her work, visit her website   You can also find her on Facebook and on Twitter @REKemp1

1 comment:

  1. I understand what you mean about short stories, Anne; sometimes they simply end too quickly, and all we are left with is the option of another short story... I get the feeling though that there is a sort of red thread connecting all these stories and that could actually make a difference. I will try to get hold of In Pursuit.