A Flavour of the Book: “He wakes up with his face on Frances’s pudenda. This has probably saved him from drowning in her bath water – he had fallen asleep, face down, between her legs…”
The Authortrek View: This is an intriguing collection of short stories from Patrick Chapman that comes with a high pedigree, since one of the tales, Burning the Bed, has already been made into a short film starring the excellent Gina McKee and Aidan Gillen. Patrick Chapman is highly ambitious – he wants to stretch the boundaries of the short story. And since he is prepared to take risks, some of what he attempts does not come off, such as his characterisation of a work of art in Venus d’Arc. And the finale, Return of the Empress, which features Clora Lynne, a real diva of an actress who has never really gotten over her premature exit from the 70s space opera Raven’s Rebels (which sounds suspiciously like Blake’s 7), doesn’t really work either, as it feels as though Patrick Chapman has fallen too much for this rather exuberant and overblown character. However, some of Patrick Chapman’s best writing comes from the stories where his prose is that much more subtle. Happy Hour is a very convincing portrait of how a loving father is somehow transformed into Public Enemy No. 1 by the legal system. A Ghost is a chilly tale that is suitably unsettling throughout. It’s not a surprise to read in the postscript that Burning the Bed, Happy Hour, and A Ghost have all won prizes, as these are the outstanding stories of this collection, and are some of the best short stories that I have ever read. The publishers, Bluechrome, are also to be congratulated for their stylish presentation of The Wow Signal.
To find out more about the author, please visit our Patrick Chapman interview.
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