A 'Cern Zoo' review by The Author of 'Salmon Widow':
“Untitled”: Far more than “sweet nothings”: a wistful call to arms for the world’s broken hearted. The young inside the old, and - for the lucky few - the other way around.
“Dead Speak”: Polonium behind the arras? Weather hawks fight over knowledge and wisdom. Off at a good clip!
“Parker”: The messenger not the message. An intimate portrayal - and I raise my own Lady Parker in salute!
“Artis Eterne”: I love the timeless, placeless quality - the return to childhood haunts and hauntings. Arthur’s legacy passed like a dusty baton. Some very careful writing. I was completely absorbed.
“The Last Mermaid”: Big and bold. A rich seafood supper indeed!
“The Lion’s Den”: Assured and relaxed, the writing becomes invisible - no higher aim for a writer. Bravo! The animalism is powerful and - for me - is the truest embracer of the Cern Zoo concept. A FAVOURITE.
“Virtual Violence”: Lord of the Flies meets Cluedo. A wild little number. Liked it.
“The Rude Man’s Menagerie”: This piece put me most in mind of the “Untitled” opening story. Loss, memory and the very chalky earth itself reaching up to engulf Rebs. Beautiful. Unusual. Ooh.
“Window to the Soul”: More memories. At a price.
“Pebbles”: I have as much respect for this story as the author obviously has for her or his reader. It hangs like a dream. I loved it. A FAVOURITE.
“The Shadow’s Departure”: Jittery, spiky and full of icicle limbs. Strange, frightening. Truly visual.
“Being of Sound Mind”: Sara is faith personified. A leap of Sara. Did Sara leap? Uncomfortable. Moving.
“Dear Doctor”: Hah!
“Mellie’s Zoo”: The childhood answer to “The Lion’s Den”. The amplified imagination of children create creatures, worlds. Mellie’s purple hippo becomes Sara’s Dolly. The mazey zoo, its puzzles leading to... A deep story that I shall enjoy reading again.
“Turn The Crank”: Breathless, fearless writing! Loved it!
“The Devourer of Dreams”: A canny hand on the tiller here. Respect! A web woven with skill and precision - and the web is woven around... the reader!
“Just Another Day Down On The Farm”: Downbeat, downtrodden, the men are as caged as the animals. The men have no names - nor do their charges. I was numbed with real pain.
“Strange Scenes From An Unfinished Film”: Rather like the final paragraph of “Devourer of Dreams”, “Strange Scenes...” directly addresses the reader/narrator; tricking the light too drastic, the shadows between the sprocket holes of the film blurring story reality and story fantasy. Should he crack open a lager or a Kia-Ora? A bleak triumph.
“Lion Friend”: Perfectly formed - like an acorn in its cup - and polished like the deft shoes of a tap dancer.
“The Ozymandias Site”: This piece of vivacious cognitive estrangement is strong, moving, beautiful rhythmical stuff. Sustained otherness; utter humanity. To actually smell the moon... That such a story was written - and that I was lucky enough to read it - made me dance. I am still dancing. Thank you - whoever you are. A FAVOURITE.
“Cerne’s Zoo”: Animal souls slip through a gentle one. And - like “Devourer of Dreams (yet again!) - it’s a gift that keeps on giving. A little charmer.
“Sloth & Forgiveness”: Now here’s a right old laugh. Not “Albert and the Lion” but “Albert and his One Alternative”. There’s evidence of genuine madness here. I smiled all the way through.
“City of Fashion”: Some might read this story and give it no further thought. I think it’s one of the best stories I’ve read in the last ten years. A FAVOURITE.
“Fragment of Life”: Fraught and finely worked. Relentless. The electrician’s brain becomes re-wired and uncrushed. A liberation of sorts, a beginning of an end or... A very, very good story. Loss as a process, not as a memory. Boy, what writing. I should give up. A FAVOURITE.