Success in the short story genre, to my mind, is contingent on the dexterity with which the author wields the primary tool at his or her disposal: the scalpel. A. J. Ashworth does so with the delicacy and precision of the surgeon. Here are fourteen stories from which every irrelevance has been excised, to provide a ruthlessly fine focus on the minutiae that matter. A young girl on a beach befriends a boy who is deceptively dangerous. A widow’s husband is summoned from the dead through telephone calls to a mysterious medium. A schoolboy abandoned by his father finds destructive catharsis. In this collection of short stories Ms Ashworth has peered through life’s keyhole and found all-too-human characters confronting the familiar and the beguiling, creating a series of coruscating cameos that sparkle with simple honesty and intelligent insights.
These stories are impeccably crafted and easy to read, and a useful collection for dissection by the reading group.