Sex, both gay and straight, is the dominant, ever-present core of the book, and many of the stories either revolve around it or feature it prominently. We are, as a species, obsessed with sex, and Sheargold finds no shortage of ways to explore it. Several of the tales take place at the shoreline, the metaphorical border of two worlds. `Charlotte Imagines the Sea' is a poignant tale of two friends walking by the sea, disturbing old memories, while `A Cool, Calm Place' is a strange, sad tale of love and lust at the sea's edge. The most heartbreaking story of the collection, `Painting Medusa Pink,' is a tale of tragedy that also takes place mainly along the shore's edge. A beautifully written tale of dreams and loss, it's one of the highlights of the book.
`The Blue Landscape' itself is most obviously about sex and sexuality, but also about the inevitable loss of the imagination and innocence of childhood, and is another beautifully written piece. Other stories, `The Winter Tower' and `The Garden,' ruminate on death, or more specifically its lead-up and the desire for it. My personal favourite of the collection is `The Tea Party,' a sexually charged, powerfully written and deeply philosophical meeting between God and the Devil. Exploring the true nature of sin and forgiveness, it's an uncompromising dissection of supposedly modern Christian values.
The Blue Landscape is not quite what I was expecting from its author, and that is a rare and unexpected thing in itself. A collection of powerful short works which will surprise, horrify, entice and offend, it certainly makes a bold impression.