At thirty, Aislinn Kelly is an occasional novelist with a near-morbid attunement to the motives of those around her. Isolated, restless and stuck, she decamps to America - a default recourse - this time to an attic room in Indianapolis, to attempt once again the definitive act of self-salvage.
There are sharp memories to contend with as the summer heats up, and not least regarding her family history, now revealed as so botched and pitiful it seems it might yet cancel her out. She's spent years evading the attentions of her unstable, bullying father, only to find her mother now cowering in a second rancid marriage. There are also friendships lost or ailing: with bibulous playwright Karl, sly poet Erwin, depressed bookshop-wallah Bronagh, and Aislinn's best friend Cathy, who has recently found God... Finally her thoughts turn to her last encounter with Jim Schmidt, a man she's loved for ten years, hasn't seen for five, yet still has to consider her opposite number in life.
Opposed Positions is a startlingly frank novel about the human predicament, about love and its substitutes, disgraceful or otherwise. Some of these people want to be free - of themselves, of each other - and some have darker imperatives. Wry, shocking, perfectly observed and utterly heart-breaking, the novel moves towards its troubling conclusion: a painful appreciation of what it is we've come from, and what we might be heading for.
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Riley writes with a kind of defeated ecstasy - Sunday Times
Scrupulous performance - Times Literary Supplement
Never less than enthralling - Bookmunch
Although she works on a small canvas, Riley’s work is both intricate and expansive. Her prose is a continual joy to read, and the detail immensely satisfying: she can squeeze more resonance out of a misplaced apostrophe than others can from baroque, technicolour trauma - Scotland on Sunday
Icily impressive - Daily Mail
A short, sharp, shockingly brilliant peer down the pen of Aislinn Kelly - Dazed & Confused
Wonderfully spare lyricism and deadpan wit - The Metro
Wonderfully spare lyricism and deadpan wit - Metro
Riley's prose often sings, and there are moments of sheer dazzling brilliance here - bendutton.blogspot.co.uk
This short novel laces its devastating observation of relationships with disturbing maturity. If next year's Orange judging panel doesn't take notice of Riley, it will have missed a trick - Book Oxygen
The dialogue feels very natural and her use of language is sharp and precise - TheBookbag.co.uk
There was another brilliant curio from Gwendoline Riley, Opposed Positions... Riley writes cool, faintly autobiographical novellas about enigmatic young women who drift, think and write; she wears her influences (Woolf, Fitzgerald, Camus) with impressive insouciance, and this is one of her best - Guardian
Gwendoline Riley was born in 1979 and has published three previous novels: Cold Water, which won a Betty Trask Award; Sick Notes; and Joshua Spassky, which was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and won the Somerset Maugham Award.