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Barcelona Plates

Alexei Sayle

"  ….Barnaby tore up the other side and into the Paris night. He didn’t give a fuck.; "

Reviewed by Avis Hickman-Gibb

This book was an eye opener. Rather like a double strength Bloody Mary, with lots of cayenne pepper. It’s full of real people, with real lives and dilemmas. It is achingly funny – and I found myself laughing despite the tradegy unfolding on the page.

As you would expect when picking a book by Alexei Sayle, you are buying a written version of his stage rant; but the whole is done with a knowing awareness of what he is setting out before you. Sayle means every word to count, to extend the stories he develops before you eyes. His stories are about ordinary people pushed into extraordinary – even bizarre – situations. People who, if met in real life, you might just edge away from, smiling and nodding understandingly. But within the pages of the book, you feel sympathy for their plight. There but for the grace of…..

He has obvious affection for his characters and, like a benevolent despot, appears to wants them to do well. But their paths are densely strewn with life’s hurdles; some cope - and some plummet like a stone. 

Sayle’s comedic timing transfers superbly into the written word, and you are jogged along at a brisk pace throughout. He sets seemingly random parameters at the start of each story and then moves you into deep, dark waters very quickly. From the achingly pathetic waste of a life in The Last Woman Killed In The War though the life-changing Locked Out, to the sinister Lose Weight, Ask Me How and the "oh yes, that could SO have happened" title story, Barcelona Plates, you are riveted to the page – just to find out what happens.

Isn’t this why we read stories in the first place – to find out what happens? But to create the want to do this we need to have stories which call to us, beguile us, catch us up in their magic and don’t let go until they have emptied their resolution into our willing brains. This collection of stories from Alexei Sayle does that in spades.

Barcelona Plates is a collection of 14 well crafted stories which impel you to keep reading – just to see how they turn out. Surely the basic test of any good story.

Avis Hickman-Gibb is a new writer, living in rural Suffolk with her husband, son and two cats. She gained a BSc. in Environmental Chemistry, and then worked in the fledgling computer industry whilst still a babe-in-arms. She’s currently working on her first short story collection.









PublisherHodder and Stoughton

Publication Date: 2000


First collection?Yes

Author bio: Alexei Sayle was born on August 7, 1952, in Liverpool, England. He finished his education at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. He has been an active Marxist-Leninist since the age of 16. He is a prolific writer and performer of comedy - both socially aware and just plain abusive; both are extremely funny.

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