Nigel Jarrett's stories take seemingly ordinary or innocent situations and gently tease out their emotional complexity. Both "Funderland" and "A Point of Dishonour" confound expectations superbly.
In the former, a couple who are not a couple negotiate a weekend away and their suppressed feelings for one another, while in the latter, a woman challenges the notion that her great-grandfather, shot for desertion during the First World War, should be seen as a hero. Jarrett likes the hidden tensions in family situations: caused by the strange stepfather in "Watching the Birdie", for example. He's not afraid of unusual perspectives and his bravery is well rewarded in this unusual and sensitive collection.
Reviewed by Paul Rees (no relation) in The Western Mail on Saturday 12 November:
'[...]Books are Rees’ obsession, not just his living. Every search through an insect-infested crate of battered and mouldy hardbacks and paperbacks starts with a dream of finding the rarest of first editions by a celebrated author, preferably with a dust-jacket.
He goes from auctions to house clearances in th hunt for literary gold, lamenting the increasing book savvy shown by charity shops who call in experts to help them value donations.
The result is an entertaining journey from London and NOrth Wales to Paris, Montpellier and Morocco. [...]'
Parthian are pleased to announce that we are the new publisher of literary magazine The Raconteur. Join us this autumn for a number of events to celebrate the launch of the 'America' issue in the new paperback format.
'Full of insights and valuable perspectives on the literary world’. – Alain de Botton
The ‘America’ issue promises a transatlantic treasure trove of the freshest fiction and poetry from both sides of the pond, ruminations and reminiscences of the writing life from American writers working in Europe and European writers ‘over there’, travel pieces and reportage from across the United States, an eclectic mix of interviews and features as well as an all-but-definitive A-Z of American Letters.
Godfrey Hodgson on American politics
Allegra Goodman on the American novel
'Anyone nervous about the safety of fairground rides should steer clear of this collection's title story, in which the survivor of a big dipper collapse recalls the experience in slow-motion detail: "The accompaniment of splintering wood – he would always remember that sound – watching the dripping water as it flies off in the breeze like a necklace ripped from someone's throat." Occasionally the language can seem a little over-refined: does it really help to visualise a cub scout by noting the "green tabs sticking out below his knees like gold leaf raised by static electricity"? But, as a music critic by profession, Jarrett has a marvellous ear. A shepherd's whistle is analysed as "B flat, then a glissando to the double octave, capped by a staccato triplet on D sharp". And the stand-out story, "Mrs Kuroda on Penyfan", is an enigmatic study of a Japanese woman's displacement in rural Wales. Her confusion is encapsulated by a performance of Madama Butterfly in Cardiff: "torturing herself with ridiculous, old-fashioned feelings while western music splashed everywhere like breakers on a strange but exciting shore"'