Three short stories taken from Helen Simpson's new collection, In-Flight Entertainment.
Poignant, perceptive and dazzling, in this, her long-awaited new collection, Helen Simpson offers acute portraits of lives in transition: of changes for the better, lives stalled and in freefall; of love, loss, and sudden revelations.
Warm and funny, the stories are also threaded with a sense of anxiety and fear: of growing old, of commitment, and, most worryingly, of the growing threat to the environment.
In the title story, Alan, on a transatlantic flight, is delighted by an unusual upgrade to a first class seat, but is to find his journey disturbed by portents of doom; in Squirrel" a family discussion over the fate of a trapped squirrel veers unexpectedly close to revealing a shocking truth; and, in "Homework" a boy contemplates a parallel life after asking his mother for help with his creative writing homework.
But how much is fact and how much is fiction?
Moving deftly between the domestic and the fantastical, from tragedy to comedy, these are remarkable stories from a master of the genre; each tale brilliantly realised, beautifully captured and utterly engrossing.
Reader: Sian Thomas.
Abridged and Produced by Joanna Green.
This is a Pier production for BBC Radio 4."