by Melissa Lee -Houghton
original prose underpins all the stories and the central motif, power;
is a stunning debut collection by a writer whose prose deliberates its
characters and themes with a keen sense of literary drama.
Baines often adapts her stories for stage and screen and that
adaptability and sense of artistry is paramount in appreciating her
work- it is contemporary in the acutest sense without being limited to
being fashionably modern.
energy confronts social and theoretical standpoints, which seem always
rooted in the necessity of the everyday. In Condensed Metaphysics a
pizza parlour is scene to a group of young women who suffer some
unfortunate drunken revelations about the ethics of human kindness.
Place and time are not necessarily pinned down in many of the stories,
but rather swoon toward a universality which is wholly admirable and
devoutly charming in an age where art is accessible to the
A Glossary of Bread
traces an individual history of detachment, dissociation and hurt
through various colloquial terminologies for bread. The language is
tactile and affecting, and the narrative is more than appropriate for
this age’s sense of dislocated youth. The originality of this story is
particularly striking, and is followed by Going Back, my
personal favourite of the book. A haunting, narcoleptic voice teeters
towards the cliff-tops with a broken, shaky realism and a newborn. The
prose is relayed in a drugged, slightly psychotic tone which suggests
Post-Natal Illness. This particular theme is both necessary, fazing and
is faced with an unforgiving style and approach. It is lyrical,
staggered, deranged, doesn’t ask for bias but poses sociological
questions which are rarely raised.
feels arrived at in the same way a line of poetic metre is conceived;
with self-revelation and an arc of rhetoric which demands to be
explored. The stories never feel forced, but prickle with a
high-sensitivity to the themes which bleed through Baines’s concept of
power: often nameless individuals dish out and receive humility, fear,
violent threat, expectation... in The
Way to Behave it’s revenge that turns a feminist principal
on its surly head to leave the reader wondering which of the two
betrayed women is the better off.
though offering a heavily unreassuring perspective, feels weightless
and tuned in, in the balance of the fickle order of things.
Lee-Houghton is a northern writer of poetry and short fiction, upcoming
in Better Non-Sequitur’s anthology ‘See You Next Tuesday’ and the May
edition of Succour magazine.
Publisher: Salt Modern Fiction
for the 2008 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award
Baines is a prize-winning literary author of two novels and
numerous plays for stage and radio. Her reputation is consistent
amongst her peers and readers alike, as an innovative and committed
writer of distinctly pure talent.
with Elizabeth Baines
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Publisher's Website: Salt
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