The real thing : stories and sketches

by Doris Lessing

Paper Book, 1992




New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, c1992.


A brilliant collection of stories centered around the city of London, from the highly acclaimed author of The Golden Notebook and The Fifth Child. These stories penetrate to the heart of human experience with the passion and intelligence readers have come to expect of Doris Lessing.

User reviews

LibraryThing member k6gst
The only bit of Lessing I’d read before was The Golden Notebook (1962).

This is a collection of stories set in London. Heavy on mother/daughter stuff, and animals. Good.
LibraryThing member bexaplex
The Real Thing has a odd timeless quality; I had to keep referring to the copyright dates to make sure I was envisioning the right time period. The first story, especially, feels strongly like the 60s - something about the sky-blue coat Julie is wearing and her parents' attitude.

I have a very strong memory of discussing the Golden Notebook in high school, and why Lessing dwells (or so some thought) on menstruation and other physical realities of being female. She uses the same descriptive power in some of these stories, notably with two births (one human, one deer). The stripping bare of pretense is a statement in and of itself. She sometimes levels this same technique at race and class, but never with the same effectiveness. In one story she rattles off colors of subway passengers like she was writing a J. Crew catalog - this one's ecru, that one's mocha...

The collection is diverse - the back of the book will try to tell you it's about the diversity of London, or about men and women, or about "personal relationships in a unsound society". It's not any of those things, or perhaps it's all of them. The "Sketches" part of the title seems the most appropriate description - sketches of people and places written by a perceptive and imaginative woman.
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