published on The Guardian website today as part of their Summer Reads Fiction Special
When Coral announces: "I'm just going on holiday for a lark, really," no one reacts. A word like "lark" is wasted on her colleagues. She heard it last week on a TV home makeover show, and Coral wrote it in her notebook under the heading Words To Say. In the column "Example" she wrote, "I'm just doing it for a lark, really" with "Casual, nonchalant" in the "Delivery" section. That word "nonchalant" has an entry all of its own earlier in the book. It also appeared on the list Things To Be In 2007.
Coral has sung Summer Holiday a lot throughout the morning, just to make sure everyone knows she's going away. When she came back from Llandudno in November, they hadn't even realised she'd been gone. This is different, though. She's also hummed Y Viva Espana in the photocopy queue. Plus she's taken her luggage to work, saying that she has to go straight to the airport at five o'clock. But really she's not flying until tomorrow morning, so the backpack is full of tinned food wrapped in towels to soften the edges.
click here to continue reading
and here for links to stories by Jon McGregor, Jennifer Egan, David Nicholls, and winner of the Summer Fiction competition - Fan Flaherty. The other 3 runner up stories were written by George Craig, Maggie Robb and Ursula Wills Jones.