Midnight All Day is a collection of short stories by Hanif Kureishi, an author whose characters often come close to the low life, usually never quite reaching it. These stories are of varying quality, from excellent to fairly mundane, though they are all eminently readable, well-written, and well-constructed. Sometimes, however, there is too much incestuous involvement with the media. There are too many writers, actors, film and television people. One can understand why the author might meet several such people, but the repeated use of media settings occasionally detracts from his narrative.

Despite this criticism, the characters are very well drawn, interesting, attractive and totally believable. They tend to stumble or drag their way through their lives from one opportunity to the next mistake, starting and ending relationships. Despite their tendency to write or act on other characters, they often show very little facility for introspection. They often turn to their bottles or recreational drugs and treat sex like a challenge.

So the stories are about the British professional middle class of the late 20th century, whose careers are always on top until they’re busted, whose fortunes always rise until they crash, and whose relationships are always idyllic until they fail.

Hanif Kureishi has a keen eye for the character of 1980s and 1990s Britain, and on several occasions one implicitly feels that his subjects would not dream of discussing their problems with their parents. They are a generation apart, convinced by the illusion that they are special, that they live in a new era that owes nothing to any past. They are confident yet vulnerable, assertive yet indecisive, committed yet completely fleeting. There are times when these features are a bit over the top, but overall this is a moving and memorable collection that is probably best read one story at a time, rather than cover to cover.