Strange fiction; altered realities: six short stories inspired by notions of home - disorienting, darkly comic and uniquely memorable.
The settings for the six stories in this collection are rundown and often desolate places—“full of empty houses and squatters and junkies and people who wouldn’t or couldn’t hear you if you were screaming blue murder” is how the narrator of one story describes them—and they foster behaviors in their characters ranging from the eccentric to the reprehensible. In “Pork Chop,” a family living in a decrepit slum apartment falls victim to a brutal home invasion. “The Smoke” is about a man who keeps a massive Komodo dragon in an abandoned house for reasons that are more elaborately ghoulish than anyone would guess. In “The Symbiosis,” a man’s relationship with a maggot-like creature pulled from a bath drain begins supplanting the social interactions in his life. Even when their experiences border on the surreal, characters respond in ways that seem believable, as in “The Mirror Trick,” in which a subservient young girl’s mirror reflection shows her repressed emotional reactions to her domineering mother. Mamatha’s (Keeping Lastly) skill at summing up situations through arresting images—of a former British soldier she writes, “He hinted at some interesting stories, flashing them like a pair of cheap knickers but keeping the details to himself”—ground her flights of fancy in a world both real and tangible. (BookLife)