Category: Book Reviews (page 1 of 5)

You Will Grow Into Them | Malcolm Devlin

You Will Grow Into Them, Malcolm DevlinPublished by Unsung Stories

ISBN 9781907389436 pbk

ISBN 9781907389443 ePub

Metamorphoses sudden and brutal characterize many of the stories in Malcolm Devlin’s excellent collection of – what? Speculative fiction? Horror? Gothic? Supernatural? Dystopian? I am happy to say I don’t know what it is precisely, for, like a lot of good writing, Devlin’s eludes definite classification and description, and to pigeon-hole it as one thing or another would be to diminish and distort its achievement. It evokes genre without being bound by it; its ideas and metaphors speak of larger things beyond genre expectations; its departure point is ordinary life made extraordinary by the seepages and eruptions of the inexplicable, the unknown and half-suspected, the fearful and the beguiling. Continue reading

An Accidental Profession | Daniel S. Jones

An Accidental Profession Daniel S. JonesPublished by Waxing Press

ISBN 0998562009 (print)

ISBN 0998562017 (digital)

Why can novels about people at work be so pleasurably captivating? Undoubtedly, it’s rather nice to think that others are toiling away while we read about them, and the similarities and differences with our own working lives emerge with unusual clarity: occupations do not have to be exotic or abstruse for us to find them fascinating. An Accidental Profession is all about work: its organization and administration, what it does to people, the power of the corporation, our ambivalent relationships with our co-workers. Continue reading

She Receives the Night | Robert Earle

She Receives the Night Robert EarlePublished by Vine Leaves Press

ISBN 9781925417371

Robert Earle’s admirable new collection of short stories ‘tells the stories of women everywhere from New Mexico to Melbourne. They are young and old. Their lives are the landscape of the heart.’ As described by the publisher, that is an ambitious undertaking for any writer – especially perhaps for a male writer – and one that requires immense artistry and intelligence.  Earle has these things in abundance, and he uses them to compelling effect. Many of these stories are gems of the form; they feel inevitable, surprising, effortless.

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Something You Once Told Me | Barry Stewart Hunter

Review: Something You Once Told Me Barry Stewart Hunter

Published by Martin Firrell Company

ISBN 9780993178641

Trains and boats and planes – modes of transport abound in Barry Stewart Hunter’s interestingly varied collection of short stories, although the people they convey are seldom up to speed with their own lives. Persons in transit and the mental dislocations they experience are a recurring motif; thematically, however, there is a great deal more going on, much of which is intriguingly elusive. This is a collection for readers who have downed a few years derrière la cravate and know the score, if not themselves; who can recognize confident writing when they read it; who can pluck humour from the jaws of tragedy.
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Gnarled Bones | Tam May

Review: Gnarled Bones Tam MayPublished by Dreambook Press

ISBN 9780998197906 (print)

ISBN 9780998197913 (ebook)

‘The past does not exist, so it cannot hurt me.’ How many desperate people, I wonder, have muttered some such mantra under their breaths in the hope they can stop brooding about things dead and buried? The trouble is, of course, very few things are dead and buried. Each of us lives with the consequences of the past; its deeds are all around us. And if we insulate ourselves from the pain it can cause, we can also miss out on its pleasures and joys.

The stories in Gnarled Bones are much concerned about the past’s persistence through time, whether through learned and internalized ways of seeing oneself and the world, as in the opening story, ‘Mother of Mischief’, or the power of a single event to derail a life, as in ‘Broken Bows’, or – implicitly and explicitly throughout – a semi-malevolent maternal love that seeks to control and cripple a child’s natural urge to explore and engage with the world.

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