It May Never Happen

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V.S. Pritchett's Englishness †“ the dependable Englishness of shabby, bumptious businessmen, shy wives, puritanical suburbanites and vinegar-tongued grandmothers †“ often came out in surprising ways. Though comfortably set in the dirty brick factories south of the river or the dreary commuter villages on the outskirts of London, a story will show a Russian sense of passing time or a French pertness, glow poetically like a Bruno Schulz, or wound with the terrible detail of a Danilo Kis. The innate knowledge of the insider is registered with the outsider's shocked vividness.The fourteen stories of It May Never Happen show Pritchett's distinctive mastery. A fearful sailor falls into temptation ashore. An evangelist of the Church of the Last Purification arrives in a provincial town to demonstrate the non-existence of evil. A party of cyclists mistakes a private house for a pub. Two business partners fall out over money and a typist called Miss Croft with a 'small waist' and 'big red fingers'. And Aunt Gertrude breaks a mirror and remembers her girlhood.
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