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September 21, 2012 9:32 pm
The Stone Thrower, by Adam Marek, Comma Press, RRP£7.95, 224 pages
Adam Marek’s first collection of short fiction, Instruction Manual for Swallowing, was widely acclaimed, and his second provides further evidence that this bold young writer is refreshing the form. His stories are surreal, even grotesque, but are usually anchored in a certain kind of English domesticity: in “The Captain” a brutal dictator is defied by genteel, Aga-tending housewives; in “Without a Shell” students in futuristic battle-gear skirmish on “the playing fields behind Sainsbury’s”.
The pieces here are loosely linked by a concern for the fragility of children, and of the planet they will inherit. Many of the stories gesture to environmental collapse in the near future, and in the finest tale, “An Industrial Evolution”, Marek depicts an ill-fated attempt to resurrect the extinct orang-utan. But such curious and inventive writing will not be restricted to any one theme, and The Stone Thrower is best viewed as a window on Marek’s distinctive imagination, in which the mundane waltzes with the macabre.
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