Small Circle of Beings by Damon Galgut

A gripping collection about ordinary people living cowardly dishonest lives and the impact this has on both themselves and those around them. The longest, which lends its name to the book, is a shocking account of a couple’s failure to deal with the sickness of their child. The shortest, a tale which might make one weep, about a man who fails to stand up for happiness, a point to being in the world, resigning himself to a miserable existence with an awful wife. But he does not only hurt himself. He hurts his child – maybe he even hurts his wife – and he certainly hurts the woman who knew three days of happiness with him and pointlessly waits for more. A poignant story about the power of memory, of optimism, of being able to live in one’s head instead of in the real world, which is but a pale imitation of what one ceaselessly relives in recollection. I could so easily imagine this being my life.

I will grant that occasionally in this collection Galgut is a little lazy in technique, but this is easy enough to forgive, if not overlook, for the power of the content. I don’t understand why he is not celebrated.

4 thoughts on “Small Circle of Beings by Damon Galgut

  1. just got this out of the library – looking forward to it. Liked his ‘Good Doctor’ and ‘In a Strange Room’.

  2. what i don’t understand about galgut, beings this is his first collection (i think), is the nature of his novels now, compared to this novella then. seems like two different authors

    • I’m not sure, Tuck. My feeling is that nothing I’ve read by him is like anything else I’ve read by him. The Good Doctor and The Quarry seem very different from each other stylistically, for example. I think it is generally considered that he is developing, rather than the type of writer who has a way that stays with him.

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