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Posted 20 hours ago

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

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When my friend David O’Doherty and I first started posting videos on YouTube, he would get comments saying, ‘Love the song David!

We Decided to Leave London', for example, hinges in part on a woman's epiphany while watching a fox at night, but it's over too soon, written without the linguistic charge that would have set it apart from the story's less important observational details; 'Poets Rise' has a fantastic, George Saunders-ish conceit (a woman works at a sort of digital spy cops agency, where left-wing people earmarked as 'potential subversives' have their phones hacked and their lives messed with, to break their spirit before they can escalate into activism) but its elements feel like they have more potential than the story gives them, in terms of world-building and in putting the narrator's own life up against her job and the life of the man she's tracking. It was affable rather than acerbic; and if I had a criticism it would be that there was a whimsical “nice to be nice” vibe about it all, to quote both Dylan Thomas and the chief in M*A*S*H. A scintillating read which dips and dives in the funniest of ways through the messiness of what it is to be alive. 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.I’m beyond excited to be bringing out this book, it has been a dream of mine since I wrote stories as a child," she said. Long’s characters are desperate and in deep, deep trouble, dealing with everything from social alienation to a full on apocalypse. They are at pains to accept the cruelty of a world whose laws are unchangeable (“How can the past be the only place you can’t travel back to? After a break to study English at Oxford University, she had her Edinburgh fringe debut in 2006 with Kindness and Exuberance, a show that Chortle described as “utterly amateurish…this is a good thing”, disarming audiences with homemade badges, handwritten programmes, shambolic ukelele songs, and jokes about her supervillain persona Deceptive Shrimp.

Long feels frustrated that her diagnosis came late in her thirties, but she feels there were benefits to the delay, too. By the age of 24 her first full-length Edinburgh Fringe show had won her a Best Newcomer Award and the 41-year-old has been a staple of the capital’s Festival scene ever since with this year’s Re-Enchantment continuing its UK tour with gigs in Aberdeen and Inverness later this month. I’m of a similar age to the author and have broadly similar politics and I imagine anyone else fitting that description would find joy in this collection.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.

the collection's standout story for me, follows the survivor of an abusive relationship after her abuser moves into her neighbourhood almost two decades later.It's heavy, and it's raw, but it's also a beautifully written reminder that everyone has their own shit to deal with, whether they choose to share it or not. The writing and Long’s craft does leave a little to be desired with some more editing having been beneficial. The last story, in particular, felt very personal as the narrator reflects on bringing children into the world as it is today. I don’t feel like the diagnosis takes away from the beauty of the good parts, and the fast, unusual connections my brain makes”. She’s still touring as a comedian, winning avid fans for her open-hearted, earnest, fiercely political brand of comedy, the latest show of which is Re-Enchantment, an exploration of her lockdown experiences raising two small kids and moving to Scotland, and her fury at the right-wing English establishment.

All in all an engaging, sensitively written collection of stories which centre the female experience amid the horrors - but also joys - of modern life.Comedy doesn’t produce many millionaires, but Long’s still had a pretty successful career by most reckonings.

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