“Microcosmos” by Nina Allan

IZ222 coverFrom Martin Lewis’ review: “It focuses on failed, grudging and inexplicable relationships. It takes a keen interest in geography … Observations … are often precise and clinical … Above all it is a story that suggests rather than insists … fantastic elements are extremely muted.” All spot-on. “Microcosmos” is a brilliant mix of the specific and the elliptic. A near-future, desertifying setting is sparingly sketched; the pain behind a family’s relationships is glimpsed; both are defined as much by what is unsaid as by the details picked out for the intense attentiveness of the young protagonist. The story has a clear shape, but no resolution; troubled emotions are left to ripple behind the page, potential answers ripen but remain un-plucked. All is controlled. This one will haunt, I think.

Perhaps the only problem is that, in that review, Martin’s talking about the stories collected in Allan’s first book, A Thread of Truth, which was published in 2007.

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