Unlike his wonderful novel, Timoleon Vieta Come Home, Rhodes's plain, stripped-down, almost disaffected style of writing adds little to the benefit of his subject in these stories. It is love once again - in Timoleon the love of a dog for his master - here, loves of various kinds, which are given a series of strangely cool and half-joking work-outs.
The jokiness comes through in the grotesque extremes of some of these tales, notably in the last, Beautiful Consuela, where a woman deliberately makes herself ugly to find out if her husband really loves her. In another, much shorter story, a man whose bins have been taken away by the Council, makes a visit to a landfill site and falls for a beautiful girl who lives there in penury.
Many of these stories have a cosmopolitan setting - somewhere in France, or perhaps Spain - it is never quite clear, deliberately so, as Dan Rhodes eschews the cultural complexities of place and environment and concentrates on archetypes. A beautiful young girl, a handsome young man - it is not people that exercise his imagination so much as the things they represent.
I was disappointed in this collection, when measured against the sublime and disturbing experience of reading Timoleon Vieta Come Home.