A Portable Shelter

By Kirsty Logan

Rating: 3 stars

I’m not really sure what to write about this collection. The stories are wrapped in a meta-story of being told to an unborn child by its parents who hide their storytelling from each other because they had agreed to “only tell the child the truth”. This is a bit ridiculous to start with, but okay, let’s go with that for the moment.

The stories themselves are beautifully written. There’s no doubting Logan’s skill as a wordsmith, but I fear that I’m not the target audience. I’ve never got on with Literature-with-a-capital-L and I’m not too fond of depressing or miserable stories. And there’s a lot of both in this collection. The parents seem to want to frighten the child into never coming into the world, it seems, by the tales they tell it. The only story that really stands out to me as even maybe having something approaching a happy ending is Flinch, the story of a selkie fisherman.

Beyond that, there’s some quite brutal stories here. From the one that starts us off (a metaphor for domestic violence?) to the one about starvation in a small community and the lengths they go to to survive, to the one about a couple whose children go missing and the mother’s attempts to find them.

Like I said above, I can appreciate the writing in these stories. It’s beautiful and all the stories are very well written (even if I don’t have much time for the stupidity of the parents in the meta-story) but the contents are not for me.

Book details

ISBN: 9781906841232
Publisher: Association for Scottish Literary Studies
Year of publication: 2015

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