Posted 20 hours ago

Because I Don't Know What You Mean and What You Don't

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Or you're the thinks-herself-chubby-and-ugly girl wanting to get in with the cool-but-very-flawed crowd at school, or you're suffering because a guy at a party can't keep it in your trousers, or someone from your past moves in to the neighbourhood, with his current and you have a hard time over you being his ex still, or someone from your past ends up on a nearby billboard you see daily.

From her new home in Glasgow, the much-loved standup insists there’s much more to life than sweating on the Central line and doing hand-to-hand combat with the city’s cost-of-living crisis. It's hard to pick a favourite - 'We decided to leave London', which is about life during lockdown and 'Poets Rise', which explores authoritarian surveillance, both really stood out for me. The long and the short of it is that comedian Josie Long has turned her hand to writing fiction and will be bringing her first book of stories, Because I Don't Know What You Mean and What You Don't, to Wigtown Book Festival next weekend. The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products.Each was thought-provoking in its own way, and I thought the writing was great - incredibly engaging and I found that the mix of stories felt very well curated. As is always the case with a collection of stories, I connected more with some than others but I truly enjoyed reading them all - which is quite rare for me. So during the pandemic when I really couldn’t gig, I realised that I was allowed to cycle to the empty offices of Arts Emergency, and that I could use that as a workspace. A limited amount of signed copies of Because I don't know what you mean and what you don't will be on sale at the venue on the night.

Then as I wrote it I was finding all these things on Instagram and realising oh I have the name now, that was abuse, that was this, that was that, and so the story itself was my experience of writing that story. This is the first book I've read by Lang and it seems like it takes some time for the story to unfold. I've been a Josie Long fan for years, and when I learned that her first book was going to be a collection of short stories, rather than a my-life-in-twelve-lessons-memoir-polemic (as we've seen from so many comedians over the last decade or so), it felt so right: Long's work on Book Shambles and Short Cuts, alongside the Radio 4 plays and micro-budget films she's made, feel suited to this genre, and certainly influenced by it. Part of the strategy seems to be to insist that this is not “made up stuff”, but is happening to real people in the real world. They have all endorsed Josie Long’s story collection: “Read these stories NOW”, “Miraculous”, “Read them immediately”, “Hilariously cynical”, “All the cynicism I have acquired gets replaced by the enthusiasm”, “Hilarious and incisive”.However, these minor issues aside, I found the character explorations very satisfying, and enjoyed each one. This is a brilliant collection of stories, expertly told and with fascinating, fully realised characters. The "neighbourhood pandemic WhatsApp group" story is memorably odd - at first I thought I was reading about a future egg-shortage dystopia, because who goes on that much about a single egg? This is an excellent collection of stories, a selection that packs a powerful punch in bitesize chunks. All in all an engaging, sensitively written collection of stories which centre the female experience amid the horrors - but also joys - of modern life.

Some of the sheer random whimsy may have been edited out of her work over the years, but what hasn’t gone is Long’s essential warmth, heart, and earnestness. We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others. I would love to see the ideas and characters in this story expanded into a novel in their own right - I was fascinated by what their back-story was, and would have enjoyed a longer, more satisfying narrative arc than the short story form allows. I hadn’t heard about the author (and stand up comedian) Josie Long before seeing this as an audiobook on BorrowBox, it sounded interesting so thought I’d give it a go. And this is from someone who doesn’t tend to be a fan of short stories - ten “unnecessary” pages of context and detail is absolutely my bag!Others were quite hard to follow and just as you were getting into the swing of the story, it finished. It was going to be about a woman whose ex-boyfriend shows up in her small community and it f*** her life up. I’m not a hardcore fan, but I’ve often enjoyed the comedy work of Long, and really enjoyed Bookshambles, so this was an interesting concept.

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