Start your week of with some older titles that deserve a second look
by Mark Haddon
Mark Haddon is so great. This is a collection of short stories and they all kind of deal with the subject of lonliness and abandonment. The marquee story “The Pier Falls” is a compelling and haunting story about the collapse of a pier and the destruction it causes. It’s written by an incredibly dispassionate narrator, which makes the events all the more jarring.
What’s it about?
n the prize-winning story “The Gun,” a man’s life is marked by a single afternoon and a rusty .45; in “The Island,” a mythical princess is abandoned on an island in the midst of war; in “The Boys Who Left Home to Learn Fear,” a cadre of sheltered artistocrats sets out to find adventure in a foreign land and finds the gravest dangers among themselves. These are but some of the men and women who fill this searingly imaginitive and emotionally taut collection of short stories, weaving through time and space to showcase Mark Haddon’s incredible versatility.
Yet the collection achieves a sum that is greater than its parts, proving itself a meditation not only on isolation and loneliness but also on the tenuous and unseen connections that link individuals to each other, often despite themselves. In its titular story, the narrator describes with fluid precision a catastrophe that will collectively define its victims as much as it will disperse them–and brilliantly lays bare the reader’s appetite for spectactle alongside its characters’. Cut with lean prose and drawing inventively from history, myth, fairy tales and, above all, the deep well of empathy that made his three novels so compelling, The Pier Falls reveals a previously unseen side of the celebrated author.