Her themes are generally contained within a domestic framework. She writes about families, loneliness, railways, suburbia, cats, clothes, old age, poets, shape-shifting, the oppression of kindness and the fatal stab of unkindness. Her style has a lyric elegance that has deceived critics into describing her, with that most dismissive term of faint praise, as 'gentle'. She writes with a beautiful, controlled savagery . . .
The Mackay vision, suburban - as kitsch, as unexceptional, and yet as rich in history and wonder as a plain Victorian terrace house, its threshold radiant with tiling and stained-glass birds of paradise encased in leaded lights
There are many writers who can elicit much feeling from a rollicking plot, but very few can manipulate the dreaminess of memory and fantasy with such exacting precision, or make the minutiae of other people's lives so sympathetic
The heart lifts at the prospect of a collection of stories by Shena Mackay. You can be certain of various elements: laughter, a touch of the blade, underlying shadows, wit, sharpness of perception
The bizarre and the banal, the half-remembered and the yet-to-come, brilliantly intertwine in the sentences of this most imaginative yet most practical of writers