Space Junk is a collection of ten short stories. Each was inspired by events that took place during 1989 when the British author was on a 7-month trip to the United States of America, her first visit. The profound collision of cultures she met at every turn resulted in stories that focus on expressions glimpsed from the corner of an eye, snippets of conversation overheard in a store, looks that pass, seemingly unnoticed, between two people, and what lies behind them all - the unwritten, the unspoken, the unacknowledged. The tiny details and crystallising flashes of realisation contained in each of these stories encapsulate the varied form of classic short story. But that is fused with a British perspective of The United States from an author who experienced first-hand the growing influence of popular American culture on her own life during the Cold War, the Vietnam War and the Space Race. By 1989, all consigned to history and yet, everywhere she went on her travels, the author encountered discarded remnants of these living layers of history - and it is these remnants that underpin her stories in a society still trying to catch up with itself. Universal messages prevail in every seemingly insignificant incident, every nuance, every action: • the effect of a severe ice storm on a family where cracks are also beginning to show; • a misunderstanding between a young cleaner and a pretty girl he finds curled up on a sofa in the university library ; • the emotional realities of sharing a room with a manic depressive; • the after-effects of the Vietnam war on a young soldier on duty in Arlington National Cemetery; • the secrets of a country musician that haunt him as he prepares for a riverboat concert in Nashville; • the life-changing choices that overtake Anna, a tourist chasing a 60s dream in The Big Easy; • the revelation of a earth-shattering birthday secret that will change Sonny's life forever; • the desire and anticipation building for Donna, a memorabilia shop worker in Music Village, as she prepares for a trip to the annual Music Fair; • how a chance meeting in a restaurant, near a state park filled with fossils, leads to an unexpected outcome; • the trauma and problems of losing a front tooth far from home. The Space Junk of the title, the metal relics of war, endeavour and the pioneering American desire to be first was everywhere, proudly displayed. For the author, this is what fuses with the space junk that forms all her characters, the space junk of which we all consist.
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