Pulp.net - Review

The Online Home of New Fiction

November 2008

Seizure — Erica Wagner
There’s a certain kind of novel in which the narrative flits between past and present while the protagonist uncovers dark truths about the past. When Janet inherits a seaside cottage and travels there alone, Seizure appears to be heading into this territory, but the book confounds expectations. Instead of the clearcut battle between good and evil that the story and the genre seem to require, good is interleaved with bad until a definitive interpretation of events seems no longer possible. As Janet meets her brother for the first time, the reader alternately witnesses the tense electricity of their shared present, and visions and revisions of their separate but linked pasts. In these evocative, lyrical tales within a tale, the validity of one truth seems to counteract another: ‘He knows and he doesn’t know. That’s the way her stories work. He never knows. He loves her.’ (Faber, £10.99) – LA

Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 1
Stephen Moran (ed.)
This compilation of the best submissions to the Willesden Herald short story competition features two standout pieces. ‘Kid in a Well’ by 2007 winner Willlie Davis effortlessly explores smalltown claustrophobia with the all-American cool of its bigmouth protagonist, while ‘Dodie’s Gift’ by last year’s joint winner, Vanessa Gebbie, is a elegantly constructed piece that explores the loneliness of two middle-aged people and the fragility and discomfort of their eventual union. Overall, a collection of steady illumination rather than dazzling sparks, but the variety and obvious talent on display make it no less enlightening.
(Pretend Genius Press, £7.99) –NR
fictionThe Swank Bisexual Wine Bar of Modernity — HP Tinker
The first two pages of the story ‘You can probably guess my trajectory’ may be enough to prove that when HP Tinker is writing, all trajectories are unguessable. One thing you can be fairly certain of, and that is, in whichever direction the narrative suddenly veers, famous people from the past and present are fairly likely to materialise. Thus, in a surreal channel-hopping daze, it is possible to witness the arrival and swift departure of Wagner, Lewis Carroll, Jay MacInerney, Max Ernst, Magritte, Brett Easton Ellis, Aldous Huxley, Paul Gauguin, Simone de Beauvoir, Tom Paulin, Thomas Pynchon, Robin Williams, and Ezra Pound, all pirouetting against a backdrop of the author’s sleeve notes on minimalism, Hitler Youth, pornography, Morrissey and Britpop, among other things. A mash-up worthy of investigation. (Social Disease, £6.99 ) –LA. Story by HPT

fiction2007 National Short Story Prize
The nice thing about buying this compactly sized and priced little collection of five stories is that you can play judge and decide which of them you’d have made winner, had it been your call. With stories like these to select from, it clearly would not have been an easy choice to make. The money here would have been on an each way bet between David Almond with ‘Slog’s Dad’ and Hanif Kureishi with ‘Weddings and Beheadings’, although it was outside runner Julian Gough who triumphed on the day. Contrary to appearances (see the cover image) Kipling, Mansfield, Woolf et al were not in the running. (£4.99, Atlantic)