These short stories range from the familiar and familial to the bizarre and the, in that seductive "Oh no, oh yes, oh no" kind of way, quite shivery. There is human sacrifice by a Swedish summer lake, and the murder of a voluptuous American tourist in Spain's other Versailles by a guerrilla troupe of ultra-European actors. An invisible shepherd mines a golden sexual vein in a Greek palace three thousand years ago. An old woman has visions of eastern orgies and transcendental holiness through the hedge of her very English terrace garden. A young woman from a failing central African state, swathed in a burka, meets an M15 spook in a London park to address the matter of her president's forked penis and his predilection for the discipline of traditional nursing. Nearer home, a good husband dallies with his mistress while his wife takes a succession of driving tests; and an elderly couple visit a computer screen to be informed of the cosmetic, and other, possibilities of genetic engineering. Elsewhere, holy adultery is practised and explored while raging old men expound the Abrahamic law.
Those already familiar with Waddington's style will recognise the slightly narcotic combination of the sensual and the cerebral, the arrestingly elegant and the look away crude. You are lulled as you are lured, charmed as blades are unsheathed, and you are left, more alive than before, with strange reflections playing across the shadows of your mind.
James Waddington has published a novel, Bad to the Bone [Dedalus 1998], which has been translated into French, Italian and Russian. Some of his short stories have appeared previously in magazines and anthologies. He writes and broadcasts on drugs in sport, theories of culture, the enigma of religion, bicycle technology; and any combination of any or all of the above.
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4 months ago