Took me a while to settle into the telling (not showing) style, but when I did I found I couldn’t put the book down. Expected a few less cliches from a poet, but on the whole I liked the writing. As the ending approached I did start dreading a coming-of-age-hollywood-movie-style victory for Martin and his team, but the actual result of the gymnastics comp fitted the story well. Not sure why it’s a ‘ground-breaking’ novel, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
4/5 – I really liked it
Every Saturday for 43 years their routine had been the same. No matter where they’d lived, they’d taken the bus into town. She would shop; he would sit, and when she’d finished, he’d carry her bags back to the bus stop, while she merrily recounted their contents. Once home, she would reward his patience with a freshly-baked cake – sometimes chocolate, sometimes lemon drizzle, sometimes his favourite: just a simple jam sponge, always delicious. He’d eat it at the kitchen table, smiling as he listened to the chatter and clatter of her tidying up.
Life is not the same without her, but on Saturdays, if he sits on a bench next to a cafe and closes his eyes, he can almost convince himself she is still alive.
(Original version posted at Flashpoints, a National Flash-Fiction Day project.)
There are some stories in the collection that I just didn’t understand, but they were few and far between. The rest cleverly and subtly illustrate the idea that we are all freaks to some extent, and that we all have a ‘superpower’. We might not be able to fly, but if you squint, you’ll see there is something ‘super’ about the most ordinary of us; it’s all about perception. That might sound a bit fluffy, but that’s not the way this collection is written. It’s more gritty than fluffy. It doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable subjects. To coin a phrase: ‘it pulls no punches’. The subject matter, the language and even the illustrations (which are breathtaking) are rather adult in nature. Best read with an open-minded.
5/5 – It was amazing!