Happy Sunday one and all! Fancy a book review? I have just the thing.
A young video shop assistant exchanges the home comforts of one mother figure for a fleeting sexual encounter with another; a brother and sister find themselves at the bottom of a coal mine with a Japanese tourist; a Welsh stag on a debauched weekend in Dublin confesses an unimaginable truth; and a twice-widowed pensioner tries to persuade the lovely Mrs Morgan to be his date at the town’s summer festival…
Thomas Morris’ debut collection reveals its treasures in unexpected ways, offering vivid and moving glimpses of the lost, lonely and bemused. These entertaining stories portray the lives of the people who know where they are, but don’t know what they’re doing. (Goodreads)
I can’t remember the last time I read, completed and thoroughly enjoyed a short story collection. This seems like a first for me. I picked this book up when I saw the quote from Ali Smith on the front, and surely enough, I found this book had similar qualities to her books, and I loved it. I read it in one sitting.
These stories are not massively driven by plot, but by feeling. They are so real and relatable in so many ways. I loved that no story was like any other, each exploring different characters of different genders, ages and sexualities even. Each character was flawed, and this just made the book all the more accessible. There were no dramatic or predictable plot twists and no obvious clichés, which is refreshing in fiction, as oftentimes I think stories can rely too much on the happy ending or the traditional ark that a story is meant to take. Fiction normally provides an escape from reality, whereas this collection was to me hauntingly reminiscent of what reality is. Not every experience in life is life changing or dramatic, some things just exist and happen. In this collection, whether about an old man who has forgotten to take his meds for the day, a young boy drifting through life after a breakup, or a group of guys dressed as potatoes on a stag do, something about it hits home with me.
Some stories were definitely better than others, but they were all well written, beautiful snippets into somebody’s life. I found the lack of embellishment so refreshing. While at face value, each maybe seemed like quite a basic story, you could tell there was more to them than that.
One thing that I feel may put certain readers off is that there is quite a bit of sex in the stories, which although not a problem for me, I can see it being for some people. Again though, the way that sex was mentioned in the stories was just so plainly stated and raw and real. Sometimes, a story doesn’t need countless metaphors or elaborate descriptions etc. to have an effect and to resonate with people.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would say that if you were a fan of the Perks of Being a Wallflower or anything by Ali Smith you may enjoy this collection. It is relatable, endearing and quite an easy read. The overarching theme is that of relatability, that all people have flaws, and that not everybody knows what they’re doing. While we may seem like we have life figured out, we might not.
I hope you guys enjoyed this review and will stick around for some of the posts I’ve got coming up next week!