A dying woman lies in a hospital bed and appropriates another patient's identity to acquire her coveted blackcurrant cordial...and her visitor. A man adopts the role of detective to satisfy - with disastrous consequences - his curiosity about his wife's friend. A monkey is given a computer and uses it to update a Shakespearian Tragedy. People begin journeys and never end them, or live through lifetimes in the space of a single dream.
This collection brings together prize-winning and critically acclaimed stories: encompassing both the poignant realism of bereavement or childhood night terrors and the fantastical realms of an alternative Garden of Eden.
Ranging across the globe, from the Welsh coast to Genoa, and from Kansas to Khartoum, the thread that binds these stories is one of dislocation and deception, the insidious power of memory, and of those seemingly un-momentous decisions that, once made, can change the course of a life.
Alex Barr read Mars as the Abode of Life and wanted to be an astronomer, but Schrodinger's equation foxed him. His birth marked a turning point in the Battle of Britain and he wanted to be a pilot, but the RAF lost patience with him. After seven years as a journalist (reaching the zenith of his career as wire editor of The Wichita Beacon) he read The Pleasures of Architecture by Clough Williams-Ellis, gained a Dip. Arch. with Distinction from Portsmouth Polytechnic, and for seventeen years taught architecture at Manchester Met. In 1996 he and his wife Rosemarie (a ceramic artist) moved to a smallholding in North Pembrokeshire. His haphazard career has included work as a bus conductor, ice-cream vendor, kitchen porter, and garden labourer. He has won prizes for poems and short fiction, but none for sport. The stories in this collection span the period from 1980 to the present.