Cover Image: So Late in the Day

So Late in the Day

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Member Reviews

Claire Keegan is best know in the U.S. for her two powerful novellas, Small Things Like These and Foster. This one is very different. Firstly, it's a collection of previously published short stories from earlier collections and secondly, there are no children to tear at our heartstrings. The stories are piercingly focused on misogyny, risk and inspiration. So Late In the Day tells the tale of an Irishman who is clueless as to why his fiance called off the wedding. In Long and Painful Death an oafish intruder disturbs a writer's private retreat and she gets her revenge. Antarctica is the chilling story of a wife and mother who wonders what it would be like to have sex with someone other than her husband. The reality is more than she expected.
Keegan's prose is spare yet it pulls readers into the lives of the protagonists and leaves them them wanting more.

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I loved this collection of stories by Claire Keegan. I loved that I could set it down between stories and pick back up to something entirely different.

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I’m unsettled! That’s the best way I can describe how I feel just after finishing this little collection. I loved it in a way…I loved Claire Keegan’s writing, of course. I knew I would. I can’t wait to read everything else she’s written. But short stories are so hard by nature of the fact that they are SHORT. I wanted more….but they really ended just where they should have.

The writing was so quiet and delicate, and I am a huge fan of intentional, delicate writing like this. You can feel the tension or emotions or discomfort build in that slow-burn way that messes with all the human feelings. And I don’t actually want to discuss or give away any themes because I think that’s unfair with short stories, but I appreciated reading this book right when I did.

I received this e-book through NetGalley but all opinions are my very own.

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To call these "stories" is rather ambitious. While I enjoy a quick read every once in while (and this is truly a quick read) there was no substance in any of the 3 stories. There was nothing for the reader to truly connect to. I was a bit disappointed.

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Quick and meaningful read. Made me realise that love of course is a two way street. Made me reflect on the love languages and how not everyone has the same perception of what love truly means. Would have loved to have found what the protagonist does going forwards! Claire Keegan has done it again 🙌🏻

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I was going to start this review by pointing put that this is not a new Claire Keegan, merely stories that have been published elsewhere put into a new volume. All that is true however because I only started taking The New Yorker this year I had not read the title story. I'd read the other two but didn't recall The Long and Painful Death and Antarctica is most assuredly one of my favourite ever short stories. Add to that the fact that reading any Claire Keegan prose is always an utterly joyful experience (no matter how sad or creepy the story gets). Never a word that doesn't need to be there, never a clumsy phrase or a wander off point. She truly is a master of her craft.

I loved all these stories and despite So Late in the Day leaving me open mouthed, Antarctica remains my favourite. Beautiful. Highly recommended whether you've read these stories before or not.

Thanks to Netgalley and Grove Press for the advance review copy.

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Only liked the first story, and that too, it was mediocre at best. The other two were not my taste at all. Sadly not the collection for me.

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I absolutely loved Keegan’s two novellas, and the writing in this collection is exemplary. It’s amazing how she establishes character, setting, and tone so organically. However, I just need more length than the short story format offers.

Netgalley and the publisher provided this book for review consideration, but all opinions are my own.

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So Late in the Day is a collection of three previously published short stories by Claire Keegan that examine the complicated gender dynamics between men and women. Keegan’s stories are quiet but build tension so seamlessly, that it’s no surprise that she’s lauded as a master of the form - I often compare her style to Chekhov. I love how she’s able to capture the Irish cadence in her dialogue. Despite its short length, this collection would be great for a book club to discuss.

Thanks to Grove Atlantic and Netgalley for the advanced readers copy (Expected US Publication date November 14, 2023).

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Those three short stories explore mysogyny in very different ways, the last one being utterly terrifying (I was not ready).
First time reading this author and I really liked her writing style !
I overall liked the stories but it felt a bit short to me to fully appreciate them. I will definitely look up Keegan's other works!

(Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC!)

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I honestly do not know how to make a decent review of a short book without saying too much, so bear with me if it comes out vague. 

So Late in the Day is a short story collection that consists of three tales about women dealing with men's shit. That's it: they're all about misogyny. 
I haven't heard of the author before, but her writing style piqued my interest enough that I want to pick up her famous book, "Small Things Like These." The stories in So Late in the Day were all brain dumps or just trails of thoughts about social politics and Irish men in general. 

Although I liked the ambiguity of each story, I think it'd be even better if they weren't disjointed. They could still stand on their own, but the connection with one another would've given me more impact on my part, if that makes any sense.

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Being an avid lover of Claire Keegan’s style of writing already, I was excited to receive this copy of So Late in the day. Each story is deep and meaningful. Keegan conveys themes of misogyny, lust and desire subtly to her readers.

I can’t wait to see what Keegan will do next.

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So Late in The Day by Claire Keegan is a collection of three previously published short stories, in lieu of a new book, that will assume be out next calendar year, and in response to the global demand for anything, anything, from the sudden (? She has been winning awards for many years, but has not been on the A-List circuit til recently) sensation and literary fiction author.

The three stories in this collection have in common men who are jerks among other things. And very fine insights into male-female relationships. And superb writing as we have come to expect from Keegan.
1) “So Late in the Day” is a short story that was published in The New Yorker in February 2022. It’s maybe the most “contemporary” story I have yet to read from Keegan, whose work has a kind of fifties quality to it, with a touch of fable or myth thrown in. I just reread “A Forester’s Daughter,” about a loveless marriage between Deegan and Martha, set in the fifties, maybe, and this story made me think the two were connected in many ways. But here we are in contemporary Dublin, where a man, Cathal, who works in an office, develops a relationship with Sabine, who grew up in Normandy. The fact of her being an outsider provides some of the perspective here on Irish men.
As with the man in “The Forester’s Daughter,” Cathal is feeling his age, and thinks he ought to get married, but he has an odd way of approaching Sabine on the issue: “Why don’t we marry?” (As the story proceeds, we can make a long list of why not, actually!) She laughs and urges him to explain what this is all about (and he never says love):
“About making a life, a home here with me. There’s no reason you shouldn’t live here instead of paying rent. You like it here—and you know neither one of us is getting any younger.”

Deegan, in “A Forester’s Daughter,” similarly is concerned with aging and money--being financially responsible, not romantic--for instance, not wanting Martha to spend his hard-earned cash on roses. Nor does he speak of love; this is a marriage of convenience.

In “So Late in the Day” Cathal objects to the cost of the engagement ring, (as with almost everything they buy):
“Do you think I’m made of money?” Sweet guy, right?

Sabine, as with Martha, is getting older, as she lives with three “younger” roommates. Her time for marriage may be passing! We don’t see why it is she finally decides to marry him, but as with Deegan, it’s not obvious to the reader that there are many advantages!

The story is at times as we have come to expect from Keegan, subtle; Cathal works on writing rejection letters (ha!) to arts grant applicants, as later we see the story is about rejection.

While both stories focus on misogyny--the French title of “Late in the Day” is “Misogynie”--”The Forester’s Daughter” is maybe a bit more subtle and complex. “Late in the Day” is seen--and I like this--from the perspective of the shallow Cathal, but his view of women is sometimes just too much on the nose: “That was part of the trouble—the fact that she would not listen, and wanted to do a good half of things her own way.” When she moves in she’s “pushing things aside, as though the house now belonged to her, too.”
“I just don’t know about this stuff, that’s all.”
“Which stuff? My stuff?”
“These things. All your things. All this.”

As the story proceeds she confronts him on why he has never thanked her for any of the cooking she has done for him, why he never does the dishes, why he always gripes about the cost of things he buys for her. “And why is it so many Irish men seem to refer to women so crudely as ‘c---ts?’” He shrugs all of these things off.
Rather than just show us, however, we are lectured on misogyny:
“You know what is at the heart of misogyny? When it comes down to it?”
“So I’m a misogynist now?”
“It’s simply about not giving,” she said. “Whether it’s not giving us the vote or not giving help with the dishes—it’s all clitched to the same wagon.”

Not that she isn’t right, but it’s too pointed, theme-pointing. It’s better when we see Cathal sitting alone, drinking champagne and stuffing himself with cake, watching a BBC series on Lady Diana, in the dark: “. . . he felt himself falling into its relief and a new darkness.”

That is powerful, to be sure. He’s lost but doesn’t know it. And he’s not sorry, except for all the expense. So this is an unhappy relationship as was the relationship between Deegan and Martha. This is that same story, part two, in a way, updated, as if to say: This is a tale of some Irish men; nothing has changed.

Here you can read it yourself as you hear Keegan read it aloud:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20…

2) The second story, “The Long and Painful Death,” the opening story in her collection Walk the Blue Fields, is about a writer who gets a grant to write at a writer’s retreat, in the same cottage once occupied by Heinrich Böll. She is visited by a man who thinks all who have written there are unworthy of Böll’s name. It’s maybe a little slight, but Chekhovian light, writerly, a writer looking at a writer. But the man is a jerk, a misogynist, a snob. As above, he is not willing to give her anything, including the benefit of the doubt. As with Cathal, this man does not respect her, does not see her. He's threatening, threatened by her in some ways, too.

3) The third story, "Antarctica," is the first story in her collection by the same name. The story is about a married woman who decides to find out what it might be like to sleep with a man other than her husband.
“It was December; she felt a certain closing on another year. She needed to do this before she got too old”-- again, this business of feeling we have to do something quickly because time is passing.

I thought it had echoes of the wistful longing of Joyce’s “Eveline,” who is kind of paralyzed by her circumstances, with time passing, and a man in the picture. Then, there's the ending that Joyce could never have written--different times, less innocence--that is the thing many readers seem to feel had the most impact in the whole collection, and I get that, though I felt a bit disappointed by its predictability. The man is again, a jerk, but more than just threatening. It's not a typical Keegan story. Yes, these things do happen in the world.

Well, Keegan is currently one of my favorite authors. Foster is brilliant, and her short story collections in general are also amazing. These three stories are not my favorite of her stories, but they do give you three different perspectives on misogyny. Iff you are reading these stories for the first time, and this is all you have ever read by Keegan, you will probably rate this five stars. I just know more of her work to compare them to.

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Oh hail the Queen! In my mind Keegan is the undisputed Queen of the Short Story and this collection just reinforces my belief.

The first of the three, the title story, is the longest and to me the most moving. She just writes about mundane every day life but then boom hits you with a line that completely stops you in your tracks. She's just has such an insight into the human psyche and relationships. She's not frivolous or wasteful with her words and can say so much in so little.

The second story The Long and Painful Death was a strange and moody little one. I thought it was so clever and just so unexpected. Geez she's good. You can picture every detail without being overloaded with detail. Such a skill.

The final of the three Antarctica is also the first and the title story in the separate Antartica book, that I only just realised is full of her short stories. I am picking it up ASAP. It is a little darker, a little grittier - and I was here for it! I read it last night and woke up still thinking about it.

Loved it and highly recommend anything written by Claire Keegan!

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These three short stories encapsulate the complex interchanges between men and women and for me, provoked thought on the biological and sociological differences between us that make these connections so difficult.

The first story follows a usual day in the life for protagonist- Cathal, as he reminisces on an old relationship turned sour. Despite Cathal’s masculine derived toxicity and refusal to accommodate and negotiate with a woman he’s supposed to love- the reader still ends up feeling astonishingly sorry for him. This illustrated for me a seemingly innate capacity for emotional understanding that women possess which reinforces the longevity of misogynistic treatment.

The final chapter was my favourite. The intertwining of love, lust and a deep hunger for power, this vibrantly powerful story follows a woman as she cheats on her husband and relieves herself of her daily duties. We learn quickly though, at what cost. The protagonist suffers what seems an eternal purgatory in a horrific ending.

It was nice to see Keegan move away slightly from her usual normalcy in terms of story line here.

It left me hoping that if one is abused, manipulated and killed simply for being a women- then let death be kinder then man.

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I’m *almost* positive that all of these 3 stories are reprints, repackaged to look like her 2 bestsellers. They were good! And unsettling.

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Three feels-inducing, fast-paced short stories with super-smooth prose and vivid descriptive language that will leave you wanting more is how one should like to spend their lazy evening. All three of the stories play around several intense themes including regrets, attachments, love, lust, disloyalty, and misogyny, just to name a few. I personally liked the second and the third one better. They all are so simple yet so thought-provoking. You somehow end up in those stories among the characters, looking in like an old lady who lives across the street with cats.

If Claire decides to fledge out these stories in the future into whole novels, I’m definitely going to be here for it.

Thanks to NetGalley and the Publishers for this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

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My only complaint is that I wanted more. I could read Claire Keegan forever. She captures what it is to be human like no other.

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Keegan is a master of the short story form, and these three short stories are her at her best. The titular story, ‘So Late in the Day’ is particularly powerfully told. These stories each display different relationships between women and men, and are each perfect commentaries on gender, misogyny, and modern relationships. The women in these stories, especially, are beautifully complex characters who find themselves at the mercy of the men in their lives, and each make for enthralling (and at times terrifying in the case of Antarctica) tales of womanhood.

There is little else I can say about this book other than just demanding that you read it; however, I’ll quote some lines that I think will just about convince you to pick this one up.

From ‘So Late in the Day’:

‘What did you imagine?’
‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘Not this. Just not this.’

‘That was the problem with women falling out of love; the veil of romance fell away from their eyes, and they looked in and could read you.’

‘He had looked at her then and again saw something ugly about himself reflected back at him, in her gaze.’

From ‘The Long and Painful Death’:

‘She undressed, lay down and reached for her book and read the opening paragraph of a Chekhov story. It was a fine paragraph but when she reached its end she felt her eyes closing, and happily she turned out the light knowing that tomorrow would be hers, to work and read and walk along the roads to the shore.’

‘Ireland is not the same,’ he said. ‘People here were poor but they were content.’
‘Do you think it’s possible for poor people to be content?’

From ‘Antarctica’:

‘He kissed her then as if there was something in her mouth he wanted. Words, probably.’

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This mini-collection of three long stories should please fans of Claire Keegan who are clamoring for more of her distinctive work. The title story was published in The New Yorker in February 2022 and is the subject of a recent TNY podcast in which George Saunders analyzes what makes it a truly great story. https://www.newyorker.com/podcast/fiction/george-saunders-reads-claire-keegan

"So Late in the Day" introduces us to a man in his office, distracted by some recent event, which his co-workers appear to know about. But everyone maintains a "stiff upper lip" and proceeds as usual. Keegan slowly reveals the source of his preoccupation and pain, performing a surgical dissection of a complex relationship.

The other two stories are from earlier collections. In "The Long and Painful Death" (from Walk the Blue Fields, 2008), a writer receives a retreat in Heinrich Boll's former cottage on the Irish coast but has trouble getting to work. A visit from an opinionated German academic disturbs her peace and serves as the catalyst for her writing.

"Antarctica," the title story of Keegan's 2001 collection, follows a married woman as she takes a weekend trip to shop and enjoy the thrill of taking a lover. But things do not turn out quite as she'd planned.

Keegan's placid, elegant prose is a contrast to the stormy inner lives of her characters. She maintains tension and a sense of mystery as she carefully exposes the truth about these three "relationships." Across 128 pages, she never makes a misstep in her prose or storytelling craft. Each story is a near-flawless diamond that rewards examination from many angles. If you haven't read Small Things Like These or Foster, put them at the top of your TBR list.

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