This is something new that I’d like to try out for a while. I’m reading so many cracking stories that I feel compelled to shout about them. So, here we are with my monthly Creased Spine Bookshelf where I’ll be including a list of writing that has moved me in some way during the month, and I hope will have a similar effect on you. The set-up, as you’ll see below, is simple. I’ll provide relevant links and a one or two-liner summary, along with the crucial first line. If you’d prefer a little more detail as we progress, let me know, and if the demand is high enough, that’s what I’ll do.
Look at your Game, Girl by Kristen Roupenian (from the collection, Cat Person and Other Stories, pub. Vintage, 2020). A haunting story of a young girl and a drifter. Frightening and beautifully crafted.
First line: “Jessica was twelve years old in September 1993—twenty-four years after the Manson murders, five years after Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose, seven months before Kurt Cobain shot himself in the head, and three weeks before a man with a knife kidnapped Polly Klaas at a sleepover in Petaluma, California.”
Biter is another story in Cat Person and Other Stories. This is a humorous, darkly feel-good tale set in an office.
First line: “Ellie was a biter.”
Available from Vintage.
Stanislav in Foxtown by Dan Coxon (from the collection, Only The Broken Remain, pub. Black Shuck Books, 2020). A statement on modern day Britain rolled out on a leafy carpet of folklore with a deeply satisfying conclusion.
First line: “At night, lying in my bed, I often fantasize about murdering Mr Sharples.”
Available from Black Shuck Books.
Hippocampus by Adam L G Nevill (from the collection, Wyrd and other Derelictions, pub. Ritual Limited, 2020).
First line: “Walls of water as slow as lava, black as coal, push the freighter up mountainsides, over frothing peaks and into plunging descents.”
Full on horror that’s heavy-duty in the way Tony Iommi strums heavy. A book that VisitDevon may not be using for any tourism purposes.
Available from Ritual Limited.
Malorie by Josh Malerman, (pub. Orion, 2020).
First line: “Malorie stands flat against the brick wall of a classroom.”
I was a huge fan of Birdbox as a masterpiece in tension. This sequel isn’t far behind. I was rooting for Malorie throughout. I also thought it was an interesting reflection of parenting.
Available from Orion.
Into the Forest and All the Way Through by Cynthia Pelayo (pub. Burial Day Books, 2020). A collection of true crime poetry of missing and murdered women that is too important not to be read, and too harrowing for a reader to be left untouched. Throughout I kept asking myself: Why?
Available from Burial Day Books.
Transgender hate crimes recorded by police go up 81% – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-48756370.
I came cross this shocking report when I was researching my story, Michaela’s Wraith, for my own collection, Along the Corpse Road. This BBC article was from June 2019. In October 2020, the BBC reported that transphobic hate crime reports have quadrupled over the past 5 years.
The Creased Spine will be back next month with a few more suggestions, and I’ll be rereading a particularly delicious favourite of mine from Agustina Bazterrica.