Friday, 8 April 2016

What sort of day have you had?

Mr Jolly (collectively) is anything but jolly; he’s a murdering, sarcastic, stalking, marshmallow fetish, monkey/fish obsessed scarecrow that likes to get naked. Except he’s not is he? It’s not even about Mr Jolly. He doesn’t exist.  It’s about loneliness, madness, rejection, transformation, confused lovers, compliance, yearning, farewells and everything that’s normal day that we tread water through. And personal truth. That theme winds its way through all the stories. As does mob mentality, be it bald men or monkeys, could be zombies as far as I’m concerned, at the base of these stories is fear in this ‘spinning ball of sin and dust’.

This collection of short stories could give you a hangover of the human condition. Do you want that? Undress your mind now and open this book then. It's like Stewart ate all the new age books of positivity, then vomited reality checks over it all as a wake up call to sort your shit out. There's no time to even contemplate getting trapped in a corridor with his words as you race through these uncomfortably engaging stories. 

Ever sat on a bus not sure where you’re going or where you came from? This Is Where You Get Off won’t make you feel better about that, but it will make you think about the best stop to get off at next. Or help you avoid ending up where you started, repeating the same emotional journey over and over. Good luck finding the right stop. It’s actually called, in a later story, ‘You’ve got a fucking cheek, haven’t you…’ in big neon lights that say ‘you did alright’. At the end your heart swells a bit about living. Thank God if it's too late. 

Making Contact combines the naked fear you feel as a new parent and strips it down to fucking off in a fight or flight situation.  You feel out of place. You have an identity meltdown, who can you blame? An alien. You could just drive yourself into a truck, sweating in a traffic jam, looking at yourself,  at time and freaking out, as in Mann.  Or get it on with The Man in The White Coat, start putting a TV on your front lawn playing your unravelling mind. How about revisit a childhood haunt, cry about your absent parent, or how you have become one as in You Are Going Back.  Third Person takes yearning to new levels, the last two paragraphs are a killer. It is soaked in the pain of delusional obsession or maybe just bad timing.  There are too many threads to untangle, to "draw you into my web which stretches across space, across time, which I have spun in my mind in order to stop you falling into darkness."

Story Without Meaning would have been my choice for the finale. You can have a pop at God, just don't be left in a limbo of personal untruths.  I loved The Black Man and The White Man but I did think Mr Jolly’s penultimate story engaged the trappings of all the themes more. This collection of stories isn’t a ‘lifter', it’s a headfuck. What sort of day have you had? You know you won’t say.  I loved it for that naked truth.  

This is a book review of Mr Jolly by Michael Stewart. Amazon if you have no conscious or it turns out all the book shops near you only stock the shit you don't want.  xxx

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