by Petra Fromm
Body Parts is
divided into three main sections, "The Head", "The Upper Torso" and
"The Lower Torso", each of which covers areas of the body such as "eyes", "armpits", "genitalia", etc. The
sections are broken up with "interregnums": "veins", "tattoo", "freckles", and the whole
comes complete with prologue and epilogue. So there we have it – the
human body neatly divided, each portion providing inspiration for a
a collection of stories, each one
dedicated to a part of the
human body and all on the theme of love.
Fair enough, although,
depending on one’s interpretation of the word "love", these are not
conventional love stories. In terms of
genre and setting, they’re an eclectic bunch, historical, futuristic,
or recognisably contemporary, while some are set in a mysterious
other-where. But only some of the stories live up to the flyleaf’s
description as "dark, humorous, inspiring and surprising".
a circus freak-show as the perfect backdrop to a tale of exquisite
loneliness and unspoken desire. Lips is a
delightfully warm and
playful invocation of Tourette’s syndrome, and I was charmed by its
potty-mouthed yodeller, Calliope, ironically named for the ancient
Greek muse of epic poetry.
is the flyleaf’s claim that
by the end … we will have
love in all of its aspects,
suggests a balance missing from the collection. Body Parts puts
under the microscope in a clinical exposition of neuroses, obsessions
and fetishes. At their best, the stories deliver with perceptive
acuity. At worst, they come across as tritely postmodern, dissecting
themes of love in a jaded and, by far, too clever narrative where the
narrator is always self-consciously present. At times, he (the narrator
is emphatically male) just doesn’t know when to shut up. This is most
evident in Lips,
where the barrage of verbosity and colloquial
vernacular made me cringe.
missing here is the organ most often associated with
love – many of these stories lack the heart which invites a reader to
connect on anything more than a superficial level. It’s a good idea
though, and there are moments where concept and narrative make a happy
Fromm is a non-fiction editor and reviewer for Wet Ink: the magazine of
new writing. She lives in South Australia with her partner, Daniel, and
two Oriental cats. Her current project is a novel, Soldier’s Daughters
Don’t Cry, written for the PhD in Creative Writing at Adelaide
Publisher: Salt Publishing
Longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International
Short Story Award 2008
Author Bio: Richard
Bardsley was born in Sale, Manchester in 1975. After
graduating Film Studies from Sheffield Hallam University, he moved to
London and worked as a freelance video editor.
with Richard Bardsley
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