In a world where we present our diverse selves through social media, chatbots and messaging, this dark novel listens in on intimate secrets, desires and adultery.
This novel-within-a-novel charts the writing of a story about Richard and Anna, a middle-aged professional couple, who face the biggest crisis of their twenty-five-year marriage when he admits seeing prostitutes. The text unfolds through a dialogue between Anna, the writer, and her husband, Richard, the reader.
As the story of Richard and Anna progresses, the tension between them increases and, on several occasions, they stop speaking to each other. The writer’s novel compels them to examine their own marriage.
Gradually the differences between the characters in the novel on the one hand and the reader and the writer on the other appear to diminish to the point where we begin to wonder whether the reader, like Richard, pays for sex, and whether the writer, like her female protagonist, is coping with the situation by having several lovers.
‘Vesna Main’s latest fiction offers proof that formal invention of the highest order may well go along with a fine gift for human interest and narrative power. Rarely can novelistic dialogue have managed to convey such complex nuances of meaning, motive and mood. A singular achievement.’ —Christopher Norris
‘In these beautifully observed stories, Main deftly explores love’s myriad forms.’ —Emily Rhodes, The Spectator
‘Lush Library Recommends: Anna James’ Books for 2018 Another collection of short stories … these look at ideas of loneliness, passion and obsession and the sometimes grey areas between them. In these experimental stories of different lengths and styles, her characters include a prostitute turned murderer, a self-destructive book collection and a perfectionist dinner party hostess.’ —Anna James
‘Main’s stories are vivid, strange, thrillingly brief and filled with sex, violence and the banal horror of daily life. They are unusual tales filled with often unlikeable characters. Temptation is for you if you like witty, sharp dialogue, experimental modernist fiction and stories which speak to the darkest corner of ourselves.’ —Megan Kenny, Disclaimer Magazine
‘Main is excellent at building suspense, which is very difficult to achieve effectively in a short story. The successful development and maintenance of suspense is the difference between plucking delicately on a string to set up a subtle, subliminal vibration of psychological discomfort, rather than sawing on it to create a jarring noise which just irritates. Main is a writer who works subliminal for all it’s worth.’ —Elaine Aldred, Strange Alliances