Saturday, 8 April 2017

Stuff by Charlie Hill @CinnamonJan

When all the fire has gone
and there's 
nothing left but STUFF
how do you find the will
to keep you young? 

Stuff by Charlie Hill was published in paperback by Cinnamon Press on 3 October 2016.

Stuff is a very short story, a novella, and is just thirty pages long. When the author contacted me to ask if I would consider reading his book, I was intrigued. I told him to send it over, he did, I read it. I am perplexed.

Why am I feeling perplexed? Well, Stuff is a highly original story, the writing is tight and flows well, the reader is thrust into the world of the narrator, but there is no plot. There is a beginning, a middle and an end, but no crime, or love story, or major event. No, Stuff is the thoughts of the narrator as he describes his house, his neighbourhood, his relationship with his girlfriend, his friend and his mother.

It is fascinating, and compelling, with a darkness that is unsettling. There's a feeling of doom about the lead character, a restlessness, a desire to find more in life.

The narrator is confused and confusing. He's reached some sort of crisis in his life, and realises as he stands in his kitchen making toast. He can't remember leaving home to buy the bread, he has become consumed with 'stuff' and it has overwhelmed him. He goes on to describe in minute and intimate detail his daily life, which in reality, is quite ordinary, but Charlie Hill's writing is so precise and colourful that the reader experiences every step of his walk so vividly.

It's difficult to write a great deal about something that is so short, my advice is for readers to buy a copy, take a seat and read it. It's harshly delicate, packed with nuance and emotion, it's very clever.

I enjoyed Stuff very much, even though I am perplexed by it.  It has stayed with me, it has made me think, it has made me look around and notice the stuff.

My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

Charlie’s short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals including: Ambit, Stand, Litro, The Lonely Crowd, Riptide, The View From Here, Spelk, Neon, Storgy, Streetcake and East of the Web. They have also featured in the anthologies Unthology 7, Litro’s ‘best of’ collection Hearing Voices and in A Midlands Odyssey. Another story was republished by Birmingham’s Ikon Gallery, as part of its 2015 Summer exhibition. Some are traditional narratives, others more formally playful. In 2015, he edited a collection of short stories put together from contributions from guests of the PowWow Festival of Writing.

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