Phil: The last couple of short stories that have flown at me from the Nolan direction have been a long way from the expected chick-lit. They are tales of horror. I queried this and discovered that while most young girls were reading “Jackie”, my friend was immersed in James Herbert and Stephen King novels.
Until recently, I had never read either Herbert, King or Jackie but if this was the direction we are exploring with our writing then I felt it was time to make up for the omission. Doing a little work on another project in my local library, the opportunity was taken to brose the shelves for a suitable first book. Spotting that this once contains four short stories, I reckoned it would be a safe bet. This way, if I didn’t like anything, there wasn’t an entire book to work through to find out what happened.
According to the dust jacket blurb, all four stories are on the theme of retribution. Two of them (Big Driver and A Good Marriage) cover a victims revenge or that of a wife who discovers her husband is a murder. King claims to be trying to put the reader inside the mind of someone and examine what they might do in the same situation.
Fair Extension involves a man given the opportunity of recovering from cancer as long as someone else takes on his misfortune. It’s interesting as the expected finale where the protagonist doesn’t get his comeuppance.
The only story I’d really consider “horror” is 1922 in which a husband who has killed his wife, recounts his life as a form of confession. The whole thing is properly gory, spooky and unsettling. It’s also got a cracking twist right at the end.
To be honest, I’m still not sure. Maybe I need to try another book, but apart from 1922, I’m pretty certain that we could have produced stores as well-written and interesting. Give us a bit of time and even 1922 could be matched. This is a pretty recent book, first published in 2010, and so the author has sufficient success behind him that the publisher knows they can put out anything with his name on the front and it will sell – you can tell this from the cover design. I think I need to go and find an earlier book, and have another go. It’s not that there is anything wrong with the book, far from it, I rattled through each story pretty much in a single sitting, but I didn’t feel the horror.