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Residue
Andrew Hook
Halfcut paperback £7

review by Sean Parker

Andrew Hook is the author of two previous collections (The Virtual Menagerie and Beyond Each Blue Horizon) as well as the novel Moon Beaver. Often associated with 'slipstream' fiction (if the label has any real meaning) and also one of the masterminds behind Elastic Press, he is a talented chap. I have encountered several stories of his over the last couple of years and found them well-written, subtle and amusing.

Residue is a collection of non-genre work. It is, I'm afraid, another kettle of fish entirely. The 19 pieces herein are also well-written, subtle and sometimes amusing, but they do not sustain interest in the way much of Andrew's other writing does. On the whole they are very mood-based, the characters are generally middle aged men pondering the end of a relationship, or telling themselves how the happiness in their new relationship is probably not destined to last long.

The title of the collection is well chosen. Its contents portray what's left after the fun has gone out of life, it tells of the times when you should be happy but aren't. And, to be honest, each piece achieves its aim pretty much perfectly. Read as a whole, though, the lack of anything much in the way of actual events leaves you with an aftertaste of faint regret, and not much else.

Of the more intriguing stories here, Offof is an amusing account of a chance encounter in a laundrette, Contradict is a somewhat odd piece narrated by a rather disturbed individual, Choose Shit! tells of a day in the life of a homeless couple and By The Time I Get To Egypt ends the collection on a high (or low) note.

My problem with Residue may appear to be solely with the choice of subject matter, and that is more or less the case. If the moody, reflective, almost static approach to fiction is your cup of tea, then I would heartily recommend it - it probably doesn't come much better. If not, best to leave this particular collection, but still keep an eye out for the author's other work.
Residue by Andrew Hook

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