The tales in Jonathan Pinnock’s collection quiver on the page, ready to leap in unexpected directions. Hold on tight and they’ll carry you with them, into worlds where the peculiar is commonplace and some things, including houses, refuse to stay where you left them. Pinnock manages to compress entire worlds into a paragraph or two, where the laws of physics are subtly unaligned with our own.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of Pinnock’s unique viewpoint previously, I can assure you you’re in for a heady ride. As the curator of comic poetry site Spilling Cocoa Over Martin Amis, it’s clear that irreverence is a vital ingredient of this author’s often thought-provoking works.
Meet a man whose date decides to up and leave (sounds normal? Wait till you read the tale Dinner With Sylvia), spend time with a women who carries a curiously voyeuristic creature in a octagonal cage, encounter three hundred and sixty thousand bees, and have a chat with a saint called Geoff. See through the eyes of a ventriloquist’s dummy. Discover how your Granny could become a financial asset. Learn to expect the real and unreal to knit around one another in an unfathomable intricacy. Sleep deprivation, unrequited love and astral hi-jinks all have their vital roles under Pinnock’s narrowed gaze.
The brevity of the tales only heightens their power: you’re plunged into unfamiliar situations, grasp the essence of the moment you’ve fallen into, and are then ejected back out again, gasping for breath.
Teamwork is a dizzying example of this, where we come round alongside Maurits, who seems to be in the midst of a game where he has to follow the instructions of a voice inside his head. Adding a layer to the complexity, Maurits can only see from the viewpoint of apparently another player, who he in turn is attempting to guide.
It’s claustrophobic, tense and arguably a work of genius – Pinnock is able to take our weirdest dreams and nightmares, and pin them to the page in a way that makes sense, at least as far as the confines of each story allows.
There’s tenderness in this collection, cleverness, wit and the sheer joy of an unrelenting imagination. Dip in – you won’t be disappointed.
Seen or read anything interesting recently? I’d love to know. I’m always happy to receive reviews of books, art, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a review, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com.