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Controlled free-wheeling analysis leading to praise is my optimal goal, assuming the book itself allows, as I expect with any book I instinctively happen to buy for my reading enjoyment and as an accolade for reviewing here.
In the pitiless passion of the preternatural reading-moment, often raw, often gnomic, often wordy, but always heartfelt.

“You’re the Rawling Infant.”



“I’ve just broken open a jar of ambiguity and you should be scuttling from piece to piece, sucking the information dry from every word, every turn of phrase.”

I have a shocking sense of paranoia, as this overwhelmingly powerful story seems, in every unmistakeable way, to be aimed sneeringly at the Gestalt Real-Time Reviewer as the Dreamcatcher or Hawler…. A sort of Messiah story, though …. so it can’t be me, surely, as the monster Messiah, as Yeats’ Second Coming, a baby born sired by Angels from a heroin addicted teenage girl, an unshaped baby that morphs further and sucks in the whole story (and thus the world that this story contains) from its base in the Maternity Hospital. A myth, not a story, as it says. Sucks me in, too, as a form of itself? Or sucks in any ordinary reader, as part of triangulating its own coordinates? In many ways, I hope the latter is indeed the case. That would mean it wasn’t just me. But I “tried to find connections […] tried to find meaningful aberrations.” And, paradoxically, that is leading to my undoing, I dread to say. And, so, I have no option but to begin genuinely to believe that this work is, after all, neither story nor myth but something literally aimed at my undoing. I am the Hawling infant. “You’re the Rawling infant.”


Best British Short Stories 2018


Series editor NICHOLAS ROYLE
(My previous reviews of this writer are linked from HERE)

(My previous reviews of this publisher are HERE)

Stories by Colette de Curzon, Adam O’Riordan, Jane McLaughlin, William Thirsk-Gaskill, Alison MacLeod, Adrian Slatcher, M John Harrison, Jo Mazelis, Conrad Williams, Kelly Creighton, Wyl Menmuir, Owen Booth, Tania Hershman, Mike Fox, Brian Howell, CD Rose, Chloe Turner, Eley Williams, Lisa Tuttle, Ian Robinson.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…