A cracking collection of short stories from the author of the stupendous ‘Swimmer’.
In the title story of this sharp, clever collection of short stories, an odd-job man arrives home to his Bradford council block to find a message waiting for one of its inhabitants…in ten-foot-high letters. With his white van and set of ladders, he’s the chief suspect. But who is the mysterious Slag that has the whole street gossiping; and who has she hurt?
In ‘Wrestling Jacob’, a lusty academic takes out his frustrations down on the farm every weekend, sparring with a fierce, strangely human ram. It’s hard work being beaten up by a sheep, but he soon realizes that his girlfriends love to see him wrestle Jacob…
And in ‘Coddock’, there’s a bold new chipshop owner in town. But who is he? And what do you get if you cross a cod with a haddock, anyway?
From the backstreets of Bradford to dingy moorland pubs with ten-year-old jukeboxes, Bill Broady’s bright new stories give Yorkshire a lick of new paint, with all of the searingly precise prose, wit and energy of his highly acclaimed first novel, ‘Swimmer’.
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Following the success of his remarkable first novel, Swimmer, Bill Broady's In this Block There Lives A Slag ... is an equally remarkable collection of short stories. In fact, Broady presents his readers with a series of "Bradford Fables" (to borrow the subtitle of the book), a world as whimsical as it is credible, as grotesque as it is comic. Through each of the 12 tales included here, Broady's narrators are distinctive, original, their voices taking us into the everyday mayhem of their lives with the economy and verve that is the hallmark of Broady's writing.
Take "Wrestling Jacob", the fable which opens the collection with a quotation from St Paul: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities." In this case, however, the narrator is involved in "freestyle grappling with a Swaledale ram". Jacob, "metasheep, laughing wrestler", is the hero of this peculiar but moving story set in the valleys. By contrast, "In This Block There Lives a Slag" takes us to a Bradford Council Estate, to pubs and the dole queue, to "slags" and walls daubed with grafitti.
The story exemplifies the range of Broady's writing from its quasi-surreal conclusion to its bleak vision of lives lived out on the margins--a vision which comes through in his powerful description of the "slags" and their babies "thin and silent, with frightened eyes".
They hated children, I'd noticed, but loved babies ... And then the creatures would begin to speak, using words they'd never taught them, asking questions they couldn't answer. Only blows would shut them up and then not even blows would make them speak again.Running through this collection, the pain of such observation is offset, sometimes even transformed, by the risk and pleasure that Broady is prepared to take in words--risk and pleasure that make him a unique voice in contemporary fiction. -- Vicky Lebeau Review:
Praise for ‘Swimmer’:
‘A dark, shimmery story, full of damage and wonder.’ Elle
‘Echoing the aspirations of its heroine, Broady’s stunning narrative seems to hover in its own distinctive element and, at times, to soar and fly. In prose of poetic precision and poignancy, he touches on the deepest dreams of the human heart.’ Observer
‘A skewed fairy tale, a hymn to water…Broady’s descriptions of swimming are supple, fluid and memorable.’ The Times
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Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97800065519801.0