Sunday 12 August 2018

Attrib. and other stories, Eley Williams

The debut collection from Williams contains a series of emotionally charged musings on the small things in life that can become a source of great anxiety. The interiority of each piece with their mostly first-person narratives means each nugget of beautifully constructed fiction packs a punch.

In Smote we see a woman agonizing over whether or not to kiss her girlfriend in an art gallery, unable to get over the feeling that it might not be appropriate. Alight at the Next shows a combination of turmoil over whether or not to invite a boyfriend home with annoyance at inconsiderate commuters on the Tube. These scenarios turn moments that in reality occupy mere seconds into pages as their internal monologues go into overdrive.

There are tales of burgeoning love alongside the crushing uncertainty and worry that comes when they begin to fall apart. In Concision we are privy to the painful end to a difficult phone call yet not a word of dialogue is included. In Platform the potency of a final photo of a loved one is mixed with humour as the narrator notices another personal drama unfolding in the background as a toupee flies off one head, ready to hit another unsuspecting traveller. A reminder that all around us life is happening outside of the nexus of our own.

Animals feature heavily, most memorably in Spines in which a family refuses to help a frightened hedgehog that has fallen in to their holiday pool. This story is a perfect example of Williams’ ability to draw believable, complex characters through their actions.

Whether you regularly read short stories or not I would highly recommend Attrib. It catches your heart from the first and skillfully takes you through the mundane in quite an extraordinary way. Williams’ love of words shines bright as she leads you on a journey of word play, literary experimentation and very human tales.

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