Monday, 16 May 2011

Spectral Press #2: The Abolisher of Roses, by Gary Fry – reviewed by Stephen Theaker

Like so many of us, Peter encourages his wife’s hobbies only up to the point that they begin to encroach upon his own free time. As a hard-working self-made carpet mogul with a frisky mistress down in Sheffield, he has much better things to do than accompany Patricia to the opening of a new project, a woodland art trail. But his copy of the route map takes him to an exhibit created uniquely for his edification. He’s been scornful of art, denied its power to change a man. He’s about to learn how wrong he was.

This second chapbook from Spectral Press lives up to the standard set by the first, What They Hear in the Dark by Gary McMahon. Its flaw is that the characters don’t talk like real people; as in Gary Fry’s first novel, The House of Canted Steps, the protagonist talks and thinks rather more like a psychologist than the regular fellow he’s intended to be, and for such a douchebag lets his wife talk at him for an awfully long time without interrupting her.

But the dialogue drops away once the story leads us into the woods, and the story is much better for it. Here the story powerfully dramatises the imperfection of our self-knowledge and our understanding of our partners; the way our ideas about ourselves can sometimes drift untethered; how it takes just a single word, a single look, to remind us how little we really know of those we love – or profess to love; and how much people can change while apparently staying the same.

Spectral Press #2: The Abolisher of Roses, by Gary Fry. Spectral Press, chapbook, 20pp. Reviewed from a pdf ARC. Subscribe to the series at

No comments:

Post a Comment