An aspiring magician who gets a sinister pleasure playing all kinds of tricks on those around him. Two strangers running into each after 20 years and wondering what they’ve missed. A long-suffering husband who decides it’s time he started making big decisions. An unhappy child at Christmas struggling to deal with his new surroundings before a wonderfully surprising encounter. All this and more within the seven stories of Always Never, Rarely Sometimes, where a wide range of characters are forced to challenge long-held beliefs and powerful memories, accompanied by a sprinkling of magic. Always Never, Rarely Sometimes is the third book from Alexander Raphael, following on from his short story The Summer of Madness and his set of conceptual short stories Illusions, Delusions.
I’m not a lucky guy. I never have been. If anything, I’ve always been really unlucky. I think it was destined that way.
It goes right back to being a kid. I was the second twin, so everything felt second. People’s first question was always, “Who’s the oldest?” and my brother would just smile and lap it up. He’s always played the big brother, even though we’re only a few minutes apart. And as we’re not identical, it’s always been easy for him to keep up the act.
He got top bunk, first choice of toys and one year, he even got to blow out the birthday candles first. And not only that. He’s always had the looks, athletic ability, the charm and the popularity. He could sell sand in the Sahara or ice in the Antarctic. I have a big nose, asthma, a stocky build and a lifetime’s struggle with blotchy skin. Not to mention a rather flat, dull voice which somehow becomes high-pitched when laughing. It’s always felt like he was just six minutes cooler. My whole life would have been luckier if I’d been the one born six minutes earlier.
But I know what you’re thinking. That’s not much. Families are complicated, right? Especially siblings. But let me give more examples.
The only thing I had cooler than him was my name. He’s Giles, which was a pretty middle-class name for the bog-standard school we ended up at. He always carried it off well but I know he hated it. He’d much rather have had my name: Harry. And yet, as it had to, my name soon became a laughing stock.
You see, my surname is Potter. If I didn’t have enough to worry about, I now had an enemy I couldn’t even face up to. A literary character who soon became the biggest phenomenon on the planet. And yes, I heard all the jokes. If I was caught trying to sneak into a class quietly, it was “I bet you wish you had your invisibility cloak, Harry!” If I defended myself against being ripped off at the cafeteria it was “Woah there, Harry! I’m not Voldemort.” When I missed an empty goal, someone would always cry out, “Shame we’re not playing Quidditch.” When I fell over and bruised my face, rather than help me up, everyone joked if there’d be a lightning scar. My ginger friend Rob became Ron overnight.
Thank you, Alex Raphael and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Half-Welsh, half-Mexican and growing up in London, Alex Raphael was surrounded by different influences and interests. But it was always books that spoke to him most and had the greatest impact.
He started writing when at college, where his love of reading evolved into a desire to write, in particular focusing on poetry and short stories. Studying English and American Literature at university meant he took a break from writing, as well as giving him the chance to see more of Mexico on his travels. He concentrated on his journalistic career while working on different writing projects, but his favourite genre of literature has always been short stories as they are what first inspired him to write.
That’s why his first book was The Summer of Madness, a romantic short story that tells of a guy who goes out to try to win his ex-girlfriend back. Will you be rooting for Kurt and his big public gesture or is it more complicated than that and you don’t want her to date him again? Either way you’ll get to know a memorable set of characters along for the ride.
His second book Illusions, Delusions reflects Raphael’s love of alternative short stories from the writers of his childhood and challenges the idea of the narrative. Will your favourite be the story in the form of a questionnaire, a poem or a set of jokes, among the seven very different styles?
Alexander Raphael’s latest offering is Always Never, Rarely Sometimes, featuring original premises and distinctive characters with his trademark imagination, humour and memorable dialogue. Among others, meet a sinister magician with an array of pranks, a long-suffering husband finally becoming more decisive and a group of young guys intrigued by a pretty woman on another table.