Jack Messenger | Feed the Monkey

Reading | Reviewing | BLEATING INTO A GUNNY SACK | Writing | Publishing

Nadine stole a white Plymouth Roadrunner early Friday evening. She took it from an airport parking lot, which bought her the weekend before it was missed – a couple of weeks if she was lucky. Earle had shown her how and when to take an automobile. ‘Stay calm and act natural. Once they’re on the plane, there’s nothing they can do. You’re the new owner. Remember that.’

‘A Hundred Ways to Live’, Four American Tales

Scorn | Paul Hoffman

Scorn by Paul Hoffman

Spirit of the Times: A book review of Scorn, a novel by Paul Hoffman

The cover (designed by MECOB) to Paul Hoffman’s Scorn is an adaptation of Velázquez’ magnificent portrait of Pope Innocent X. The pope’s gilded throne and the rich fabrics draping his body speak frankly of wealth and ease, while the man himself is unsettlingly shrewd, calculating and worldly, his watchful eyes already hinting at the existential anguish and capacity for horror depicted in Francis Bacon’s wonderful series of studies of a caged and screaming pope.

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‘I seen one!’ May Alice took a hold of my arm, her eyes filled up with nightmare. ‘It’s got claws and fur and lives at the bottom of the water. It hides in the grass and drags you down just when you thinks it’s safe. Ain’t nothin’ you can do about it ’cos you’s already died. Then it eats you and it hurts somethin’ awful.’

‘Wichega’, Four American Tales

The Water Rabbits | Paul Tarragó

The Water Rabbits by Paul TarragóThe Labelling of Monsters: A book review of The Water Rabbits by Paul Tarragó

Reading The Water Rabbits by Paul Tarragó is something like the literary equivalent of touring an exhibition of contemporary art, at which we are made to confront the unfamiliar, the secretive and the inscrutable. We wander through the galleries, alternately perplexed and intrigued, distracted and stimulated, occasionally consulting our watches and wondering if that fire extinguisher attached to the far wall in magnificent isolation is in fact an exhibit. Afterwards, probably over a meal and a drink, we struggle to process the experience and find things to say that sound remotely insightful and intelligent.

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All at once, Lucy remembered Trevor and began to weep. He would never grow old as she had grown old. His youthful face remained unchanged and unwearied, preserved forever in her faithful memory. She did not love him – did not know if she had ever loved him – yet there he was. Was he still alive? She tried to think of Gerald, dead Gerald, dull, oblivious, bullying Gerald, but his face had turned bland and bloated with the years, like a blurred photograph of an undistinguished stranger.

‘Long Distance’, a free short story

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