The matriarch dominates these award-winning stories in Lisa Blower’s debut collection. From the wise, witty and outspoken Nan of ‘Broken Crockery’, who has lived and worked in Stoke on Trent for all of her 92 years, never owning a passport, to happy hooker Ruthie in ‘The Land of Make Believe’; to sleep deprived Laura in ‘The Trees in the Wood’; to young mum Roxanne in ‘The Cherry Tree’; she appears in many shapes and forms, and always with a stoicism that is hard to break down. With a sharp eye and tough warmth, Lisa Blower brings to life the silent histories and harsh realities of those living on the margins.
‘Love, Alvin & Ramona’ is an alternative look at the effects of the smoking ban on a life once defined by the celebratory pint and fag at the end of the working week. We see Di’s nifty fists in ‘Chuck and Di’; Alma Bunny’s deep rooted fear of retirement and change in ‘Dirty Laundry’; Arnold Bunter’s repressed sexuality in ‘Smear Campaign’; Lo and her family’s emotional inadequacies in ‘Hoops’; and the thwarted hero worship of ‘Johnny Dangerously’. ‘It’s gone dark over Bill’s mother’s’ is a Shropshire saying that means it’s looking a bit bleak, a little like rain.
With origins as a footless and random as the barflies trying to find their meanings in ‘Happenstance’, it is an expression that sums up this fabulous collection.
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