Yesterday I went to see Grayson Perry’s marvellous yet mundane tapestries, ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ at Temple Newsam House in Leeds. Gaffney’s collection, ‘More Sawn Off Tales’, is the flash fiction version. Gaffney takes to the extreme the idea of what we will do to fit in, to be accepted, to find love. Like Perry’s tapestries, these hyperbolic stories hold a mirror up to the fears, obsessions and tastes of 21st century life in Britain.
Many of these obsessions are consumerist – the Sindy casino, a dress with skulls on it, fancily-named paint, a classic Bang and Olufsen Beomaster with slider controls. Even the sky is ‘the colour of aged tupperware’. We find ourselves in a Turkish kebab shop with thick sweetened coffee, the office, a pub with fruit machines bleeping and glossy burger offers, the virtual world of Facebook. And in ‘Eat Less Pastry’ we are told about the difference between rough people and nice people, a story I’m sure would resonate with Perry, dealt with Gaffney’s characteristic light touch.
The language is uncannily that of modern Britain and you will recognise, in the titles, the idioms and clichés that Gaffney exploits to fantastic and hilarious effect. His social commentary is often simultaneously tragic and funny – the man who considers the unit costing of his children, the left wing bear’s head that cannot find a place to fit. In the future world, everything we want is within reach thanks to 3D printers yet here we find ourselves desperate for feral lamb, which doesn’t taste the same at all from the simulation machine. And perhaps that is where the hope in this collection lies.
Gaffney writes flash fiction as I have always wanted to read (and write) it. Recognise yourself in these stories and be suitably uncomfortable.
These extremely short stories create perfect little pictures which have you gasping for more. Presented in a delightful pocket size format that can easily travel with you for that extra hit that you crave. Wonderful!
...then this book is going to be great. David always delivers with his flash fictions, the little slices of life that he shows us are always interesting and new. "It happens inside' shows the absurdity and boredom that the everyday can dish out, but finds excitement in the mundanities of your job. The few pieces i've read give a glimpse into a world not entirely our own, but one you'd like to be in.