Tom Lee - Greenfly (2 stars)

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Tom Lee - Greenfly

(Harvill Secker)

SHORT STORIES

The publishers are to be applauded for taking a punt on a debut collection of short stories in these credit-crunched times, but the variable quality contained within these 179 small pages makes it a risk unlikely to reap dividends. There is plenty of variety amongst the dozen vignettes on offer here, with settings ranging wildly in geography, chronology and emotions, but there is a vaguely pretentious experimentalism on show which makes the likes of ‘Border’ and ‘Island 21’ drift by without reader engagement.

Tom Lee is better when he tries more conventional storytelling, the finest example being ‘The Starving Millions’ in which estranged brothers battle it out for psychological superiority. Elsewhere, ‘The Ice Palace’ is a well-crafted tale of arrogant men’s folly full of rich detail and the title story has a nicely creepy desolation to it, but such moments of inspiration are sadly few and far between.

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