This is a collection of stories, in the main, written for literary magazines over the past 25 years. After a slightly shaky start, the collection finds its feet with an array of stories teasing at the form and structure of the short story. The writing is assured, at times a breathless 'Man who was Thursday" at times a Moorcock style disintegration, perhaps David Rose is a prolific writer of pulp fiction moonlighting as a literary experimenter. Many of the stories feature an erudite, but passive hero, caught up in mystery or meaninglessness.
For me, every story ended with a sense of 'what was all that about', the best I could manage by way of interpretation was that Flora might be about the Persephone myth, with the lozenge shaped impression being a pomegranate seed, but who knows. I imagine a book group might profitably discuss each story, Rose started writing in Creative Writing classes, and the stories seem to invite further discussion. These are stories like modernist poems, where it will probably take a few readings to fully understand.
Although I enjoyed the collection, and will read more by the author, I am marking down to four because
There is not a fully functional contents page for Kindle, which seems inexcusable these days, and I struggle to think of a single person I know, who I might safely recommend this book to.
According to a terse personal website Rose has stopped writing, which is a shame. His writing has given a lot of people a lot of pleasure over the years, and this collection is a fine tribute to his excellent writing, dry wit, and deep thought. This is writing that restores your faith in the importance of short stories.
QUOTE - "Etymology is an odd business. Like lifting a paving stone to reveal a dead frog."