‘Quintessence of Dust’is a collection of huge variety which is linked by the author’s style and faint echoes of theme that bring some overlap within the diversity of subject matter.
You’ll find out about Minotaur and a new labyrinth, a magical wall of photographs, how demons can help win a woman’s heart, the consequences of having a small neck and about the digging of holes amongst other things, holes being one of those recurring themes in the book.
The concept behind each tale suggests to me that Wallwork is a hugely creative thinker. Must have been a day-dreamer in classrooms. Is the kind of person who is able to take any thought to its extreme in order to find out ‘what would happen if?’ Again and again he produces ideas that are highly original and left of left field. You never know what’s coming next.
My favourite pieces in the collection are the openers.
‘Night Holds A Scythe’ is the first. I’d recommend the book just to get you to read this one. It’s beautiful and painful at the same time. A father is flying with his daughter trying to find safety. The problem is that, because of a deadly virus, the only way for them to stay alive is to stay awake. I guess it’s a straightforward concept, but it’s what Wallwork does with it that counts. It tapped into many of my own insecurities about being a human and a father. What wouldn’t I do to keep my children safe? How awful would it be to sense their inevitable destruction and to be the only one in a position to take any action at all? It’s tense and difficult, yet it is gentle and soft, the looping theme of alphabet cards that structures the unfolding of a family’s world. ‘E’ is for excellent. ‘O’ for outstanding. ‘L’ is for lump in the throat. ‘X’? ‘X’ is for X-factor, that feeling I sometimes get in the core of my body after a brilliant tale – a cross between awe, defeat, admiration and pain. And ‘B’ is for buy it.
‘Railway Architecture’ is a little less intense, but is superbly penned. It’s a moral tale about a man who has never been comfortable with others even though he’s a student of human behaviour. He’s found a passion for the making of fine chocolates and sets about using his skills to win over the heart of a beautiful lady colleague.
Problem is, he happens to be married. Wallwork takes the idea and turns the world on its head. I loved it.
These are my picks because they moved something within me.
They struck a chord with me given the experiences I’ve had and the person I’ve become. Pick this up and it’s likely you’ll find you pick different stories – a G where I’ve picked a C minor, or an F sharp instead of my B flat. They turn what for me what would otherwise be an excellent 4 star collection into a 5 star review.
Let me know.
(review of free book)