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The Real Thing: Stories and Sketches

by Doris Lessing

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1653119,893 (3.25)2
A brilliant collection of stories centered around the city of London, from the highly acclaimed author of The Golden Notebook and The Fifth Child. These stories penetrate to the heart of human experience with the passion and intelligence readers have come to expect of Doris Lessing.

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The only bit of Lessing I’d read before was The Golden Notebook (1962).

This is a collection of stories set in London. Heavy on mother/daughter stuff, and animals. Good. ( )
  k6gst | May 24, 2019 |
Read during Spring 2002

A collection of essays and stories set mainly in modern London. The title story was my favorite, last in the collection, although the second to last, 'The Pit', was similiar and sets it up nicely. The premise, why can't a whole groups of adults, married and divorced and remarrying and their various children of different spouses just have a nice weekend in the country? The most amazing is the way no one character is cast as right or wrong, the moral ambiguity of it all is superb. Lessing is one of the few authors who short works I can read and enjoy. She is really a master of that form.
  amyem58 | Jul 11, 2014 |
The Real Thing has a odd timeless quality; I had to keep referring to the copyright dates to make sure I was envisioning the right time period. The first story, especially, feels strongly like the 60s - something about the sky-blue coat Julie is wearing and her parents' attitude.

I have a very strong memory of discussing the Golden Notebook in high school, and why Lessing dwells (or so some thought) on menstruation and other physical realities of being female. She uses the same descriptive power in some of these stories, notably with two births (one human, one deer). The stripping bare of pretense is a statement in and of itself. She sometimes levels this same technique at race and class, but never with the same effectiveness. In one story she rattles off colors of subway passengers like she was writing a J. Crew catalog - this one's ecru, that one's mocha...

The collection is diverse - the back of the book will try to tell you it's about the diversity of London, or about men and women, or about "personal relationships in a unsound society". It's not any of those things, or perhaps it's all of them. The "Sketches" part of the title seems the most appropriate description - sketches of people and places written by a perceptive and imaginative woman. ( )
  bexaplex | Jun 3, 2007 |
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