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Winner of the 2013 Saboteur Award for Best Short Story Collection
Who are the stars of these brief lives? A boy who steals a trundlewheel. An astronaut. A betrayed wife. A man jealous of his lover’s chickens. Commuters. Glampers. Psychotic twins. What do they have in common? Nothing – except the funny-haha and funny-strange conditions of their lives that bring them joy or misery and make us laugh at them and pity them and love them too.
What happens when you lose both your eyes to squash accidents? When you inherit a shop full of curios? When you fall for the spirit of a famous murderer? When your son’s a tramp? When the one you love is about to kill herself? Or has the Ganges delta in her bloodshot eye? When your butcher doesn’t know anything about meat? Discovering the answers to these questions will knock you sideways – and show that the more we understand about people’s oddity, the more we come to appreciate their essential humanity.
In these tiny stories, written over a period of a few short months, Tony Williams pushes the limits of prose fiction, homing in on the moments that sum up lifetimes and their complicated, bittersweet emotions. Each story crams a whole world into a couple of pages – you can sneak them one at a time whenever you have a spare minute, or gobble the lot – with a cast of hundreds – in a single day.
‘These tiny fragile stories are stuffed to the brim with wit and energy and love. Their architecture is perfect, as if a thousand complex worlds had been painted onto a grain of rice. If you’re like me you’ll want to read them over and over to unearth their secrets and find out why they leave such a long and lovely aftertaste.’ —David Gaffney
‘Tony Williams has a special talent for assembling the magical out of the mundane – whether that be pub carpets, satnavs, mattresses or bananas. These short short stories often deal in pain, in death, in loss and loneliness, in absence, in anger and in shame, but Williams always makes sure that fragments of hope emerge, like the music of an oboe, that short burst of happiness that lights up the dark.’ —Tania Hershman