by Sara Crowley
title Dial M for Monkey
sets the tone for what is to come: funny, pop
cultural stories, which reference many familiar names (Take That, Chas
‘n Dave, The Beatles, Jim Morrison…). The collection is a series of
short, snappy jokes, and Maxwell is the bloke in the pub, leaning on
the bar, setting up punch lines, and enjoying himself.
first story takes literally the Beatles claim that happiness is a warm
is very little I am sure of in this life, but following the literal
advice of a man who had once claimed to be a Walrus was not the
beginning of an adventure I might someday tell my grandchildren. Even
as I pressed the start button on the microwave I should have known it
would end in disaster.”
story runs to just a page and a half, and is typical.
a lot of improbable daftness going on. A monkey works a pickpocket scam
on an underground train in I
almost spanked a monkey, and the
narrator faces him in a battle of wits.
he stood upright, his
miniscule monkey mind processing some long-held instinct. He lifted his
right arm, clenching his paw. He froze, fist aloft, and stared deep
into my eyes as I waited for his move.”
man worries that his neighbour has brussel sprouts for eyes in, yup,
has eyelids. Proper ones, not sheathes like the outside of
a sprout, but human eyelids, and underneath – sprout.”
stories are fast, they read like the author has thought "What would
happen if…” and let his mind take off on a flight of fancy, but it is
not all light and smiles either. A
stroll along the prom, prom, prom
neatly flips the popular notion of teen thugs carrying knives and
instead features two pensioners who have their own way of dealing with
a young criminal.
promenade had long ago begun to disintegrate and
the council’s lack of interest meant that no-one even walked down the
prom the way they used to.
Two elderly gentlemen moved stoically along, lost in a world where the
prom was freshly painted and it wasn’t a dangerous place to
also violence, guns, theft, soul taking, grave robbing, and a
severe caffeine overdose! It’s a quick read; very short fiction with
twists of dark humour, and violence.
was asked to expand my review of
this book, but I have found it impossible to think of more to say
beyond read it, enjoy it, and smile. It’s not a deep book full of
layers and literary references to be unpicked, or at least I don’t
think it is! It’s all there on the surface, what you see is what you
get. It is a collection of amusing yarns, and I think you’ll probably
know if you are going to be entertained by this or not. It is perhaps a
bit of a boys' book, a bit lad lit for my personal taste, but it
succeeds well in delivering funny, fast, flash fiction. (Say that
Read one of the stories
from this collection on McSweeney's Internet Tendency.
has had fiction published by Pulp, elimae, flashquake, Litro, Cella's
Round Trip, Every Day Fiction, Red Peter, Boston Literary Magazine and
a variety of other lovely places. “Salted”, her novel in progress, was
shortlisted for the 2007 Faber/Book Tokens Not Yet Published Award.
Publisher: Tonto Books
Maxwell was born in 1976 and has written for a plethora of
publications, including Dave Eggers' McSweeney's, and Tonto Short
Stories. He has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Northumbria
University, and lives in the wilds of Northumberland. This is his first
with Adam Maxwell
Buy this book (used or
Publisher's Website: Tonto Books
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