Jenny Turner writes:
Many of these stories could be called Glasgow folk-tales – sour, elegant concoctions of intelligent self-loathing, political disappointment and sexual failure, ‘depressed working-class realist’ in discipline but with fabular elements, deftly framed. Several are structured on subtle but mortifying shifts in social power, sudden, comically depressing reframings of situations, as the narrator explains in ‘Sinkings’, from The Ends of Our Tethers (2003): The moments I remember with most interest are not my happiest ones, but those times when the ordinary ground under my feet seemed suddenly to sink, leaving me several yards lower than I thought normal or possible. This lower level did not prevent pleasures I had enjoyed at higher ones, but the pleasure never seemed to raise me up again. The pages of the book are formatted in line with this sinking structure, with final paragraphs indented, step by step, along both margins, so the story doesn’t so much end as fade away.