There is a strong sense throughout this collection of stories of characters playing their parts-sometimes on a large stage, but more frequently in a single room, or its equivalent. Stories about characters controlling their destinies are in the minority. If one could generalise about a connection between social issues and literary works, then it would seem that there is a prevailing concern out there with the fragility of relationships between men and women (especially those of middle age), the often challenging relationships between parents and children, and an anxiety about the realities of old age.
This selection of stories encompasses a wide range of moods and modes as writers engage with issues to do with childhood, young adulthood, middle age, old age and death. The tone may be humourous or serious, meditative or flippant-but all are marked by telling insights into
characters, circumstances and pressing social issues. As readers we emerge from the world of narrative with a heightened understanding, empathy, excitement, pleasure, alert to the fact that the world of story and the world of reality may well constitute a continuum-rather than a
separation. Or, more economically put, all the world is, indeed, a stage.