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Poignant, funny and perceptive, Helen Simpson's fifth collection of short stories deals with the full stretch, from birth to death and everything in between. A young woman's diary records a blackly farcical escape attempt involving flamenco, murder and wild picnics; two students fall in love then almost talk themselves out of it in an argument about the end of the world; a heartfelt anti-cancer spell is cast in the desire to protect a friend. Moving effortlessly between tragedy and comedy, from the politics of wanderlust to domestic extremism, this is an intoxicating collection from a master of the genre.
Helen Simpson's sixth short-story collection, Cockfosters, follows Four Bare Legs in a Bed (1990), Dear George (1995), Hey Yeah Right Get a Life (2000), Constitutional (2005) and In-Flight Entertainment (2010). A Bunch of Fives: Selected Stories (2012) includes five stories from each of her first five collections. She has received the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, the Hawthornden Prize and the E.M.Forster Award. She lives in London.