on 30 January 2003
Barker is, to my mind, one of the best short story writers around. A miniaturist at heart, these compilations are often better than her novels.
This work contains several gems, many of which centre around the premise that something negative can be turned into something postive - hence a recipient of malicious telephone calls empowers herself to the detriment of her abuser, a young man feels compassion for a tumour, and a repressed teacher turns a practical joke into a liberating experience.
Often humourous, sometimes deeply touching, Barker's direct prose compels you to read the whole lot in one pleasurable sitting.
I've read a few novels by Barker and really enjoyed them, but this, her first collection of short stories is nothing short of outstanding. I am not generally a fan of the short story genre, but this surpassed all my expectations. The stories are beautifully honed, quirky pieces of writing that are each perfect in their own right. They are thoughtful, funny, poignant and macabre, sometimes all in the same story. There are some wonderful twists to some of the stories, and there was not one weak story in the collection. I loved the story about the girl and her tape worm, and the one about the woman who created psychic food. I loved them all actually. If you like dark, odd, funny stories this is the book for you.