[My four-star review at Amazon]
It’s a dark and quirky night as Andrew Lawston slouches into the pub. His collar up to avoid the curious stares of other pub dwellers–none of whom has even noticed his arrival–he sits in a corner booth and digs into the pockets of his Mackintosh. He pulls out a pencil stub and bits of paper scavenged from gutters and trash bins. He orders a stout from the barman who eyes him with suspicion. Tonight, as he does most nights, Lawston is drinking and writing to silence the characters banging with blunt instruments on the inside of his skull.
There’s the boy with the piggy tail. And the glutton with the anus of a cow. The villagers enslaved by aliens. The neighbors who vomit. The dead.
All of these souls and more clamor for release from their bony cell inside the Tower of Lawston. So Lawston drinks, and Lawston writes, and Lawston dreams of days and nights to come when the voices are silent and he is left in peace to write the stories that put a smile on the lips of his grateful mum.
These are not those stories. These stories are strange and charming and endearing and disturbing. These stories will sneak up behind you and make you jump when they whisper your name.
They are written with the skill and sureness of a born storyteller. Lawston’s prose does not call attention to itself in any fancy manner, but it’s smooth and graceful and evocative and funny. It has a way of poking like an acupuncture needle exactly the cluster of nerve endings that send a tickle of electricity up your spine.
Lawston’s collection of short stories is good. The stories are half an inch deep, yes, but entirely engaging. (It didn’t surprise me to learn that Lawston has written a considerable amount of Dr. Who fan fiction.) I’m withholding one star for this reason alone: Lawston is going to write something, hopefully in the near future, that will blow our socks off. At the least, another Hitchhiker’s Guide. At the most… I can’t even guess. I’m saving my five-star review for that work.