by Rosalie Parker
Review by Mario Guslandi
PS Publishing Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781786360229
Date: 01 September 2016
A well known publisher (co-owner of the excellent Tartarus Press) and editor (the Strange Tales series), Rosalie Parker is also a fine writer, as shown by her debut collection The Old Knowledge which elicited a number of positive reviews. Now, Parker is back with Damage, a new, hefty collection of stories, displaying once again her elegant and perceptive narrative style, but also a high degree of eclecticism in her choice of subjects, atmospheres, and genres.
Her fiction, allegedly a mix of fantasy, horror, and supernatural, often contains such a scarce amount of those genres that it could easily be labeled, quite simply, as mainstream. (Absit iniuria verbis*: hopefully this should not be considered as an offense.) On the contrary, it is a further demonstration of Parker's true talent as an author and a storyteller, especially when compared with some writers who are clearly unable to overstep the boundaries of their usual genre.
Among the various good stories included in the volume, I'll briefly mention the ones which appear to me more accomplished.
The excellent "Random Flight" effectively portrays a womanizer by trade, always on the lookout for easy money, while the insightful, enticing "Drama Queen" depicts an actress apparently endowed with a very cold heart.
Two stories are set at the time of World Wars: "Oracle", a delicate childhood reminiscence where a ghost provides a lonely kid with an unexpected glimpse of the future, and "The Thames", a gloomy tale of loneliness and prostitution.
In the well told "The Monument", a young woman returns to her home town to pay her dues for breaking an old promise. The subtly disquieting, superb "Carbon Footprint" revolves around a strange woman whose life and beauty are kindled by heat, while the beautiful "Untouchable" is a gentle fable featuring a pure female creature living a bittersweet life.
"A Correspondence", an outstanding piece taking the form of an exchange of letters between a lonely woman and a prison inmate, left me longing for more. One would want to read other letters and maybe a further development of this epistolary relationship between those two very different persons. A sequel in the next collection, perhaps?