I envied Stoker who had an old Freud programme which users often asked
for, mainly for fun, I suspected. I loved to hear his carry-on-camping
dream analyses in which everything shimmered with sex and envy and
death, and the only possible remedies for neurosis were time travel and
never having been born."
Reviewed by Melissa Lee
authority of the writer to captivate, by means of brief and concise
prose, guillotined in proportion, is no mean feat when you consider the
rocky path the reader has to take. We meet the despondent sexual
partner with a penchant for blurred images of girls, moving onto the
neo-natal ward cleaner who has trouble separating his life and his
work, then onto the lesser catastrophes of fame-struck cat whose feline
peers are rather in awe of his magical powers when operating cat-flaps.
effect is unimaginably numbing at times. Gaffney invites us to play
judge, by never really reassuring us, by refusing to answer questions
or give us too much back-story; we have to study the reaches of what he
does tell us. In can be infuriating, while at the same time
it’s hard to stifle belly laughs, and there’s
something rather sinister about Gaffney’s stories that make a
reader oddly self-conscious.
we understand why the gluttonous ex in Special Pudding
does not get her just desserts but manages to homicidally quash her fat
nemesis? We don’t, or maybe we just don’t want to.
In the same way that we don’t want to read the Sunday
tabloids, but we buy one anyway (because they’re cheap, or
have a free DVD, or a ‘decent’ crossword). And we
can’t help but read them. We’re that fickle like
that. Aren’t we?
sublimely into three parts, 45 Revolutions per
Singles and Long-Players,
with dozens of references to the
time-emaciating music of our northern souls, the book gains momentum,
like an old L.P does. With hiccups and stutters, moments of abject
confusion or unusual clarity or remote, unreal sadness. When we reach
the Long Players
we’re ready for crescendos, the pace and
mood heightens, and the pieces take off.
not to say I was dissatisfied by the many arbitrarily challenged
endings, but unsatisfied, yes. Gaffney has a knack of producing inner
qualms in a reader so that he operates almost as a keen opponent as
much as the story’s creator. And the humour is as black as
only northerners know how, or feel the right to be offended
Like many of my
favourite records, by the end I was merely ready to go right back to
the beginning; to one of the most honestly tender and evocative pieces
of flash I have read in ages, Art Movement. I
could almost feel the female character’s hair brushing my own
face as I read. Aromabingo
is a triumph of the blurring of literary boundaries. Popular ideas, the
love of stories, contemporary culture invited by unruly
media… rubbing up against a purely anarchic desire to
agitate the norm and our political fops and their counter-balances;
obliterating the literary purpose with a dose of unabashed comic
bravura and honouring British writing with the awkward, self-conscious,
yet jagged aplomb it so deservedly needs.
Melissa Lee is
a Northern UK writer of poetry, drama and fiction, and a member of The
Gaffney is a much revered
Indie northern writer whose first collection, Sawn-Off Tales,
received such acclaim as to secure
its place in the wider literary world. Gaffney was born in West
Cumbria, was educated in Birmingham and now lives in Manchester.
with David Gaffney
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