Cover Image: So Late in the Day

So Late in the Day

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Member Reviews

A succinct yet impactful collection of three short stories, all crafted with many layers of nuance and Claire Keegan's sharp prose. Highly recommend for fans of short stories. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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In the UK the title story (originally written for the New Yorker) was published in a standalone volume by Faber, while this U.S. release includes two additional earlier stories. The title story has Cathal spending what should have been his wedding weekend moping about Sabine calling off their engagement at the last minute. It’s no mystery why she did: his misogyny, though not overt, runs deep, most evident in the terms in which he thinks about women. And where did he learn it? From his father. (“The Long and Painful Death” is from Keegan’s second collection, Walk the Blue Fields, and concerns a woman on a writing residency at an author’s historic house in Ireland. She makes a stand for her own work by refusing to cede place to an entitled male scholar. The final story is “Antarctica,” the lead story in that 1999 volume and a really terrific one I’d already experienced before. It’s as dark and surprising as an early Ian McEwan novel.) Keegan proves, as ever, to be a master at portraying emotions and relationships, but the one story is admittedly slight on its own, and its point obvious. (3.5 stars)

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Keegan is known in the U.S. as the author of Small Things Like These and Foster, longer-form works that are touching and tender and compassionate. What a surprise to discover these more grim, more sly, and more shocking “stories of women and men.” These are so well done, and NOT AT ALL what I expected from Keegan.

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While slightly different in tone than the other works of Keegan’s I’ve read, this is my favorite I think. She writes in such a beautiful way, and this collection is particularly haunting. That last story especially will stick with me. I would definitely recommend picking this collection up, or anything by Keegan, for that matter.

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Keegan is fully in charge of her stories and each of these novellas is rewarding, satisfying and thought provoking - all the hallmarks of a good short story. Her characters have complex inner lives and these ideas stay with the reader long after the book is read.
I'll be looking forward to her next book.
Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for an advance copy to review

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Claire Keegan's latest offering, "So Late in the Day", gives us three revised but previously published short stories. The title story is the most recent, published in The New Yorker in 2022, while "The Long and Painful Death" (2007) and "Antarctica " (1999) are from earlier story collections. Each story examines facets of gender dynamics and the multitude of ways that things can go wrong. I found the twilight zone feel of "Antarctica" to be the most riveting but, overall, I much preferred her later novellas "Foster" and "Small Things Like These."

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These are 3 of Keegan’s exquisite short stories. They deal with female-male relationships and themes of lust, misogyny and love. True gems.

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I really enjoyed Keegan's last two novellas, Foster and Small Things Like These. So Late in the Day collects three of her short stories. The first, So Late in the Day, was published in the New Yorker in 2022. The other two, “The Long and Painful Death”, and “Antarctica” are from earlier collections published in 2007 and 1999. Each of these is a finely-observed character study of misogyny and male anger, which initially appears to be subtle, and escalates into uncomfortable extremes.

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I always struggle to get invested in short stories but each of these really rooted themselves in my head. I can’t stop thinking about them.

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Unsurprisingly, I loved So Late in the Day. All three stories were wonderful. Claire Keegan's writing style is just so perfect. Her stories touch on some dark, difficult topics but somehow still feel almost comforting, Antarctica was the most surprising and my favorite story, I was not expecting that ending! Highly recommend this and all of Keegan's work!

Thank you NetGalley and Grove Press for the e-ARC of So Late in the Day in exchange for my honest review.

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Three stories that really pack a punch!

“So Late In The Day” – The title story tells the story of Cathal, an Irishman who has misogyny bred in his very bones. He becomes engaged to a woman but his true nature rises its ugly head in time for her to leave him shortly before they were to be wed. There was one powerful scene in this story that I will never forget. It involved Cathal and his family around the breakfast table. Readers will know the scene I’m referring to…

“The Long And Painful Death” – This story features a writer who has travelled to the home of Nobel Prize winner Heinrich Böll as a sort of writer’s retreat. Her stay is interrupted by a German academic.

“Antarctica” – tells the story of a wife and mother who travels to the city to go Christmas shopping. She entertains the thought of being unfaithful to her husband and finds a man to have sex with. Unfortunately she chose the wrong man…

Powerful, powerful writing. Expertly crafted for maximum impact on the reader. Claire Keegan has done it again!

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I really enjoy Keegan's writing, but in this book her prose sounded especially stilted. It really detracted from the reading experience.

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These short stories were such a joy to read. I especially loved the third one, which let a low level of dread build into something more. It’s really Keegan’s writing that is the jewel here: simple yet evocative, it’s sparsely written enough that you are paying careful attention to each word. She nailed some truths about being human. I left the stories feeling seen.

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I loved Claire Keegan's previous two releases, FOSTER and SMALL THINGS LIKE THESE, so I jumped at the chance to review SO LATE IN THE DAY, her newest collection of 3 short stories about the relationships between women and men. Those who have read Keegan before will be familiar with the close distance she brings the reader to the characters, and the details she captures in each scene to describe the characters.

My favorite of the three stories was the titular SO LATE IN THE DAY, in which the protagonist Cathal proceeds through his workday while reflecting on the parallel trajectory of his relationship with Sabine - with an ending that is not unexpected and yet satisfying. In THE LONGER AND PAINFUL DEATH, a writer takes a weeklong retreat at a seaside home of a German writer, where she interacts with an unwanted guest. In ANTARCTICA, a married woman plans a weekend affair which slowly unravels into more than she expected.

In all three stories, Keegan masterfully guides the reader through the narrators' headspace, and traces their interactions with other characters in sometimes unexpected ways - the plots creep sinuously along until you realize you're somewhere other than when you started, much as sometimes occurs in reality. Fans of her previous work will find much to like, but note that the tone in these stories was darker and more discomfiting than the two previous works of hers I'd read.

Thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.

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SO LATE IN THE DAY: STORIES OF MEN AND WOMEN is a collection of three short stories by Claire Keegan.

Keegan is an exquisite writer who can capture nuanced relationships. In Keegan's sparse words, she conveys a depth that begs for closer examination. Characters say one thing but readers pick up on the reality. There is tension and anxiety, loss and wonder.

My favorite in this collection is the opening story, where the book gets its title.

Flawed characters take on the mantle of truth, revealing what we might all be capable of, for good or for ill. These stories can be lessons to us, if we dare reflect on who we truly are.

Keegan was unknown to me until quite recently, but I am a convert and now seek her out, knowing the experience will force me to pause and slowly read, trying to capture her insights into human behavior.

(I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)

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Keegan is a genius. These stories are slightly darker, more sinister than her latest novel Foster, but still measure up in size (small) and impact (large).

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Claire Keegan's minimalist writing style creates compelling narratives in the book So Late in the Day. She is an autobuy author for me for a reason. Recommended!

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Claire Keegan is a gifted writer who can be depended upon to say a lot in few words. These three stories of relationships are no exception and all were delightful in their own way.

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Claire Keegan is gifted at writing short works that pack a punch. So Late in the Day is a collection of three short stories, each one telling the story of a relationship between a man and a woman. All three stories left me feeling uncomfortable, but all for different reasons. She captures (mostly) mundane interactions between people with complexity and insight.

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So Late in the Day: Stories of Men and Women by Claire Keegan is the most recent collection of the author’s short stories comprising three of her previously published works. Even though I had already read two of the three short stories in the collection, I was more than happy to read them again. That’s the beauty of Claire Keegan’s work. Every reread provides something new to ponder upon.

In the first story So Late in the Day (4/5), we meet the protagonist, Cathal, in the course of his routine workday. The date is a significant one (which is revealed later) and throughout the day his thoughts often drift to Sabine, the woman with whom he had been in a relationship. As he reflects on the relationship – the highs and the lows- he is compelled to assess how his attitude toward Sabine and women, in general, contributed to the end of their relationship.

In The Long and Painful Death (4.5/5), we meet a thirty-nine-year-old writer in residence at the seaside home of Heinrich Böll. When she meets a German professor who insists on visiting the property, her interactions with him ( though not entirely pleasant) just might inspire the direction of the story she is currently writing and much more.

The final story, Antarctica (4.5/5), revolves around a married woman who plans a weekend intending to experience what it would be like to sleep with another man. As the story progresses, we follow her as her brief tryst turns into a situation she had not expected.
“As a child, she had been told that hell was different for everyone, your own worst possible scenario.”

Revolving around themes of loneliness, regret, commitment, fidelity and self-perception, these stories will stay with you long after you have finished reading. Complex characters, sparse prose, minimal melodrama, sharp observations on the human condition and plenty of food for thought – what more could we ask for in a short story? I can’t wait to read more from this talented author!

Many thanks to Grove Atlantic and NetGalley for the digital review copy of this book. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. This collection was published on November 14, 2023.

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