Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

"The cranes that build the cranes" by Jeremy Dyson (Abacus, 2010)

"Isle of the Wolf" builds up rather slowly. It could have started on the island of Lalouppe. The main character has added security features to the place, including sensors. I thought the story was going to take a different turn at "He was amazed at the sense of connection they gave him with the place, as if Lalouppe was now an extension of his consciousness - part of his nervous system ... [it] was answering the need in him that he had always thought could never be answered."

"Yani's Day" features Waterstone's, a SuperKiller and a budding artist. It's the most original piece in the book, and a good read. I liked "The Challenge Club" the most (in particular the cinema scene on p.59, the hotel scene, and the ambition of the main character) though the ending (like those of most of the other stories) somewhat disappointed me and the wife didn't figure enough.

"Out of bounds" and "Come April" didn't work. "The Coué" is quite a lot better (on p.115 there's "The ... skin ... was yellow in colour"). The main character doesn't want a child. Instead he buys a mummified baby. It's maybe my 3rd favourite story.

The final three stories didn't excite me. In "Bound South" it's 1913. The main character is told a story on a train by a man who turns out to have been a character in the grim tale. "Michael" is standard for the genre. A boy is tempted into a dangerous situation by a girl who (unsurprisingly) turns to have been dead months before. I think it could have started with the discovery of the card. "The Bear", about a fancy-dress party that goes wrong, has a muted ending too.

Other reviews

  • Tibor Fischer (The outstanding turn is "Yani's Day")
  • James Urquhart (A habit of toying with his characters' vanities and insecurities places Dyson alongside Roald Dahl, whose twistily mystifying stories generate a similar sense of unease. ... Following an indifferent first novel, this collection confirms Dyson's mastery of stylishly disquieting short fiction.)

1 comment:

  1. Dear Tim

    Your choice of works to critique is so eclectic that I'm beginning to wonder what puts you on to them. One of the beauties of house-sitting is that you have access to someone's else's library which is full of books that you would never dream of buying for yourself.

    Best wishes from Simon R Gladdish