Some New Ambush is the first collection of short stories from award-winning writer Carys Davies. Love, loss, birth, death, betrayal, madness – they all lie in wait for Davies’s characters in their startlingly different worlds: a dry cleaner’s shop in contemporary Chicago, a mining town in South Wales in the sixties, a lunatic asylum in nineteenth century northern England.
Shot through with wit and aching emotional poignancy, these stories tell of how we attempt to confront the things life throws in our path – often when we least expect them, and in places where we never thought to look. They tell of the mistakes we make along the way, and of how we try to deal with the whole difficult, unpredictable business.
There is the boy who steps into his best friend’s clothes in a desperate bid to fulfil his dreams, the man who comes up with an amazing new invention to win the heart of the woman he loves, the bored young wife doomed to live on an island where everything is red, the middle-aged woman who finds a baby in the sand and passes it off as her own.
‘Carys Davies is a gifted writer. A true original. Her magical yet weirdly believable stories transport you in a breath into other lives and worlds, without a word wasted. Full of surprises.’ —Maggie Gee
‘On “Hwang”: A perfectly judged moment of comedy ... I laughed out loud at the same point every time I read it.’ —Lynne Truss
‘Stealthily clever stories, pricked with menace.’ —Sue Gee
‘Already known for its poetry, Salt is developing an ever-stronger short-story list as well. The 15 pieces in Carys Davies's darkly funny and unsettling collection usually begin with "quite small things", only to edge gently into an emotional abyss in dank Welsh towns, airless Victorian parlours or mouldering libraries. The half-hidden passions of "Ugly Sister" could be a lost slice of Dylan Thomas, while the ousted Latin teacher of "Historia Calamatitum Mearum" has an Atwood-esque prickly wit that surfaces elsewhere. Arrivals and departures often trigger crises – but then, as "Metamorphosis" puts it, "Take-off and landing are the most dangerous times"’ —Boyd Tonkin
‘The stories move seamlessly between the familiar and the surreal, between reality and fantasy, sanity and madness... The attention is focused as through a magnifying glass and we are hooked, drawn into an imaginary world of which we wish to know more... her spare, concise, clear style is ideally suited to a genre in which every word must earn its keep.’ —Hazel Watson