There’s something wrong with Cate Gardner. If you don’t believe me, try reading Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits. Clearly, something in her imagination is connected backwards or upside down or inside out. Yes, that’s it – something in her brain has been connected inside out so that all the bizarre, twisted thoughts normal people keep trapped inside their skulls come leaking out onto the page. It’s the only explanation.
But that’s a good thing.
The twenty four stories in this unsettling collection are some of the most deliciously skewed stories I’ve read in some time. In his introduction, Nathaniel Lambert likens Cate Gardner’s writing to Lewis Carroll and that comparison is probably apt. You can never be quite sure what you’ll find when you turn the page and almost every story seems to have its own brand of sinister undercurrent. Even the stories where the sinister is front and center have another layer of sinister underlying the first.
My favourite stories were Cold Coffee & Curious Things (a dark tale of a girl called Alice and the mysterious visitors that keep dropping by the hospital room she’s trapped in), Parasol Dance with the Chalkstripe Man (a girl auditions for a high wire act in a circus) and The Moth Brigade (a robot firefighter and the last human firefighter team up to take on…well you’ll have to read it).
I do recommend you read this book one story at a time. Read a tale, then let it skulk around in your subconscious for a while – see what it dislodges.
Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits is a very refreshing collection of weird fiction and I’m looking forward to trying Cate’s latest book - Theatre of Curious Acts.
Not a good day today – hence the late post. I decided to go running this morning but picked a route that was longer and tougher than I should have so the rest of the day has been a bit of a disaster. The only good point so far has been re-reading three stories from Cate Gardner‘s Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits. I was planning on posting a review, but that will have to wait until later in the week.
Luckily, yesterday was a productive day. I finished editing Backwards Boy and submitted it to a website. It came in at 1117 words and I’m pretty happy with it. Unfortunately, the speculative fiction element is very subtle so I think it will be a hard sell. I have another story with the same problem – Hidden and it’s difficult to find anywhere to submit it to.
I also wrote the first of a series of longer blogs I’m calling Meaty Mondays. It’s about my attitude towards self-publishing and will go live tomorrow morning.
And because that wasn’t enough writing, I also wrote the first 643 words of a new story. Its working title is Origami Man and Paperboy but that may well change.
Busy week this week. On Wednesday we went to the Vinyl Cafe Christmas Concert. The tickets were an early Christmas present from my wife but neither of us really knew what we were going to see. It turned out to be a really fun show; a mix of stories by Stuart McLean and music by Hawksley Workman.
The Vinyl Cafe stories feature record store owner Dave, his wife Morley, their two children and in the case of the three stories Stuart McLean read on Wednesday, some ferrets, a car wash and a hockey game. The stories reminded me a bit of old British comedy shows – there’s an innocence to them that you don’t see very often any more. Don’t get me wrong, I like the sophistication of today’s comedy (the good shows anyway) but it was fun to just sit back and be entertained by some good old fashioned fun.
I ended up buying Hawksley’s latest CD – Full Moon Eleven – and I have it playing now. His website says his music defies category and I have to agree so I’m not going to try to describe it. Instead, you can listen to his music on YouTube.
This week also saw the early access release of Star Wars The Old Republic - the new Massively Multiplayer Online Game from Bioware and Lucasarts.
This is significant to me for a couple of reasons, firstly I work at EA and this is a big release for us. Secondly, I’m a sucker for Star Wars MMOs. I played the first one – Star Wars Galaxies – obsessively for quite a while.
Everyone at EA got a free copy of the game (I also bought the collector’s edition) and I’ve already spent upwards of eight hours playing the game. It’s a great game and has Bioware’s trademark storytelling but it’s not going to help my writing.