Category: Fiction/Short Stories – Paperback: 160 pages – Publisher: Salt Publishing – Source: New Books Magazine
First Published: May 2013
When Moore’s debut novel, The Lighthouse, made it to the Booker Prize shortlist in 2012 many summaries of her work spoke of her impressive short stories. Here then, newly published last week, is a portfolio of her stories to startle readers and build her reputation further.
Beginning a collection with a story of a young woman being trapped in a foreign country with a family of bullies who refuse to return her passport and trying to care for a baby nobody seems to want, Moore gives the reader fair warning that she has never dealt in happy endings and there’s few to be found here.
Her stories instead focus on the moments in our lives where the wrong choice is made, trust is given when it shouldn’t be or people concede defeat and give way to dark desires. The characters are all to often helpless to find ways out of the cages they’ve managed to trap themselves in and the reader is left unsettled, wary and claustrophobic.I’d classify most of them as psychological horror but all of them have a sense of creeping realisation that something has gone wrong and many involve a betrayal of some kind – affairs and broken promises are scattered throughout.
In some cases the stories do seem to suffer from being gathered together, knowing there is little hope or redemption in Moore’s imaginary world left me feeling stifled at times but also impacted the next story when I could guess where the story was likely to go. If the roulette wheel always lands on black you soon stop betting on red. Despite that you can’t help admire the careful menace she happily inflicts with just a sentence or two.
Horror, conflict and regret lurk behind every chipped glass, every illicit polaroid, every middle-of-the-night conversation. Nightmares rather than bedtime stories, but realistic, skilfully-written ones that get under your skin.
There’s three completely new stories in the collection but since the others date from 2000-2013 and come from a wide range of magazines, anthologies and even a couple of chapbooks the chances are that most of these will be completely unknown to readers. For those who are curious though it includes:
When the Door Closed, It Was Dark | Humming and Pinging | The Egg | Overnight Stop | Glory Hole | Nurture | Seclusion | Sleeping Under The Stars | Jetsam | Monsoon Puddles | It Has Happened Before | The Yacht Man | The Machines | Wink Wink | If There’s Anything Left | Static | Sometimes You Think You Are Alone | A Small Window | The Smell of the Slaughterhouse | Helicopter Jean | Small Animals | Trees in the Tarmac | Late | The Pre-War House
Further Reading: Dinah Birch’s review for The Guardian
Buy the book: Book Depository