Magnificent mistakes

I’ve just finished reading a collection of short stories by Eric Bosse called Magnificent mistakes.  The stories are indeed magnificent in depicting how strange we all are, inside and out.  Characters’ lives slip out of their control as they try and fail to communicate and come to terms with their significant others, but in the end no-one dies (or almost no-one).  The stories are lean and funny and perfectly poised between tenderness and something much more steely-eyed.  Some are short short fictions, but have in them as much detail as the best paintings by miniaturists.  None of the stories tell you what to think, and many take you places you may not have been, even as they give accounts of the relationships we all have, with lovers and mothers and fathers and children.  Oh, and rubber plants.

‘Invisible world’ and ‘The fractured museum of us’ are great examples of this, succinct and episodic scenes from life that convey in a few brief pages the stretches of landscape you’d expect from a novel.  Turning on two strangers encountering each other in near Arctic wilderness, ‘The end of Norway’ is an unnerving read, as is ‘Our lady of the Rockies’.  Like so many of the stories in the collection, they steer a fine line between treading where you expect them to and veering off in directions you don’t.

If you do make your way to this excellent collection, don’t be put off by the first story in it.  ‘The dog-faced boy’ seemed to me too consciously fantastical, Dadaist even, and didn’t progress and conclude with quite the same feeling of satisfaction as the rest.  But that’s one misfire or lapse of judgment out of nineteen, and when worlds other than your own are as finely rendered as these are, they’re worth going that extra mile for.

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