I hate short stories, I mean I really hate them. Short stories are the literary equivalent of a premature ejaculation. They get you invested very quickly in a good time and ‘splat’….it’s over….Frustration, dirty looks and snoring. Unanswered questions, half-formed plots and uninspiring characters are the order of the day.
Not so in Bracha’s wee world. In Baron Catastrophe and The King of Jackals, Ryan gives us fully-formed and complex characters in just a few pages filled with well-chosen words. I’ve read 800 page novels with less interesting characters.
The people who populate the pages of this short story somehow develop in the miserable little fragment of time that Ryan affords us with them. He’s a selfish man in this regard. A more tight-fisted-bastard-wordsmith you’ll never read. But it works.
The Baron, an Asperger’s suffering, self-harmer trapped in an OCD world of musts and have-tos is perfectly presented. The sentence structure that the author uses to convey his man’s stop/start, itchy frame of mind is skillful and hugely effective. The filthy, sad, brilliant wee creep had me at an itchy hello.
The story’s other main character, a sausage-handling sandwich vendor also left me wanting more.. Sandwich man should have been detestable, he’s potentially awful, but like John Niven does with his creation Steven Stelfox, Bracha has you laughing along with him despite knowing you shouldn’t. Christ, I’d have a sandwich in his shop, nae’ bother.
Short on words this volume may be but each and every word utilised shapes two awkwardly brilliant characters and moves the story at pace to where you didn’t want it, but needed it to go; a sickly satisfying ending.
Did I want more? Yes. Did I need more? No.
You can buy Baron Catastrophe and The King of The Jackals here now.