Author(s): Angela Readman
A girl repeatedly chops her boyfriend in half but, while her 'other half' multiplies, she is still not satisfied. Love transforms a mother working down the chippie - into Elvis. Clary's father puts antlers on stuffed rabbits to make jackalopes, but when her mother walks out on them, Clary has to help her father if they are to survive. Beautiful, sharp and fearless, Costa Short Story Award winner Angela Readman's debut collection is aptly titled, for each story packs its share of explosive material. Exposing all kinds of prejudice - against age, status, disability - the stories also offer quirky new strategies for troubled lives. If Angela Carter is Readman's fairy godmother, then David Lynch is her wicked stepbrother. Don't say you weren't warned ...
Readman's stories in this beautifully presented collection are as savage and precisely thrown as the finest nail-bombs, full of diamond-headed nails. Whether telling of a woman who keeps cutting her boyfriend/husband in half, replicating him until she lives with a myriad possible versions of him; or of the teenager who inherits (literally) the secret of irresistible attraction, and the concomitant pleasure of walking away, from her aunt; or of the girl whose mother has a latent Elvis awakened in her by a young woman as she works at the local fish and chip shop; or of the girl with the head of a dog, Readman serves up stories that are at once surreal and subtle, funny and tragic, crazed and psychologically astute. Several of the stories remind me of those of Angela Carter: children push through into an adulthood that has not had a chance to prepare itself for them, stereotypes are worn inside-out to show their linings, characters crushed by society escape through the cracks opened by that crushing. - Thomas
This is a collection of short stories that makes you look sideways at the world. Opening with a story about relationship dissatisfaction, a woman keeps cutting her boyfriend in half hoping to get a bit more out of him. The first few cuts with the spade are quite successful and she is moderately happy with her lot, but what else could be forthcoming? As you can imagine, the result isn't always what you expected. From the first story I just had to keep reading. Other favourites are 'Dog Years' and 'When We Were Witches'; both reminiscent of Angela Carter. Other stories play out the tragic lives of the damaged or disadvantaged, in 'Shine On' a young woman is obsessed with getting her grotty flat to smell like fresh lemons, and in 'The Keeper of Jackalopes' a man and his daughter living a piecemeal trailer home existence are fighting off the encroachment of a supermarket onto their land. Readman is a wonderful short story writer, telling us just enough to join the dots with a wry, sometimes wicked manner. - Stella
2013 Costa Short Story Award winner
Sabotage Reviews award for best short story collection 2015
‘Angela Readman’s stories are gems. Rainbow-coloured ones that probably glow in the dark and sing too. They are perfect, fizzing explosions of stories, told by a perfect storyteller. You will love them.’ Nik Perring, author of Not So Perfect
Angela Readman's stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines, winning awards such as the Inskpill Magazine Short Story Competition and the National Flash Fiction Competition. In 2012 she was shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award for 'Don't Try This at Home' - an award she would go on to win in 2013 with the story 'The Keeper of the Jackalopes'. Readman is also a published poet.