The stories in David Constantine’s “Tea at the Midland” are a little like stained glass windows: sometimes you see fully formed portals through which the sun shines, and on other occasions just a fragment or two of glass glinting in the sun. As a consequence – and as I may have said before – don’t expect beginning-middle-end stories.
Many of Constantine’s characters are wrestling with a point of flux in their lives, situations where decisions need to be taken, courses chartered. As such, our somewhat fragmented view into their lives is entirely appropriate; we are encouraged to focus only on what counts. Oddly, however, there was one story I simply couldn’t finish, finding the way it was written and the language used just a little too quirky for me. But a one-off.
I would say that “Tea at the Midland” – in the way the stories are written, constructed, their themes and characters – demonstrate just how joyful and flexible the short story format can be.