iamhyperlexic

Contemporary short fiction, poetry and more

Review: Mr Jolly, by Michael Stewart

Published by Valley Press (2016)
156 pages
ISBN 978 1 908853 60 8
GBP 8.99

[None of the following is true.]

I walked into McGarry’s office with as near to an appearance of nonchalance as could be mustered by a man who knew he was doomed.

‘Help yourself to tea or coffee,’ he said, as he leafed through the bottom drawer of a filing-cabinet. I looked around, and could not see any hot beverages on offer, and so I took a mouthful from the Americano I had bought at the station, laced with something from Poland, and I don’t mean a heating engineer.

I sat down in the vacant chair.

‘Sit down,’ he said, when he had finished excavating the site in the bottom drawer. ‘What have you got?’ I like that about Mr McGarry: he gets down to business. I had rehearsed this a hundred times by the time my train left York. Two hundred by the time it got to Malton. Three hundred by the time it got to Seamer. But this was Scarborough. I mean Scarborough. I was nervous. ‘What have you got?’

I took another gulp of my ‘wine of Poland’, and gave him my best shot.

‘I’ve got a quirky story about an obsessional character with conflicted sexual tastes, described in detail, with the reader left with the task of working out how this person fits into society.’

‘OK. And?’

‘I’ve got a dialogue-driven story in which a protagonist is tricked into getting into a dangerous situation by a lying interlocutor, with another twist applied, even after the reader has got the main thread.’

‘Sounds good. Go on.’

‘Er. The next piece is called ‘How To Be An Alcoholic’. It is about a character in conflict with his own setting.’

‘I see.’

‘And in ‘Deleting dadsbooks’, there is a very skewed dialogue, of which the reader only gets one side, until the last moment.’ I could see that I wasn’t selling it to him. He reclined, and composed himself to listen, politely, to my last endeavour. ‘I have a story which uses childhood recollections in an unexpected way. I’ve got nine others. I think I’ve got enough for a collection, Sir.’

He sat upright in his chair, and then opened a drawer. He pulled something out and slammed it down on the desk.

MR JOLLY

I knew that I was beat. Just like the man on the cover.

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