Katy Wimhurst’s new collection of short stories is a dark, witty look at a world at once recognisable and skewed.
The title tells you pretty much where you’re headed, but although each story takes you in that dystopian direction, the beauty is in the detail. Wimhurst’s ideas are fabulously inventive . In the title story, a post-Apocalyptic London features rains named after former Prime Minsters – Thatcher, Blair, Rashford (if only) and ‘the worst was Johnson – deceptively lightweight but soaked you through and through.’
I particularly enjoyed ‘Haunted by Paradise,’ a sensual take on the expulsion from the Garden of Eden – this modern Eve grows an enchanted garden in her flat, stealing plants from the local park armed with a ‘surreptitious trowel and large bag.’
In ‘The Job Lottery,’ the female protagonist, who we only know as Miss Fisher, attends the malign EnCorp’s Job Lottery – billed as a Festival – to try and get herself a decent job. ‘EnCorp wishes you a Good Lottery – Seize the Moment!’ This story has echoes of Huxley’s Brave New World with its Prozac candyfloss, PsychoBliss Drops and – my favourite – the Public Penance Trampoline where you are sent to bounce up and down shouting your penance through a loudhailer for alleged crimes against the state.
All of Wimhurst’s protagonists are lost in some way, mostly living solitary, lonely lives, often with a failed relationship in the background. The stories contain a yearning for hope despite the dystopian scenarios, but, for me, some ended rather abruptly. I also found some of the parallels with our current concerns – refugees, the climate emergency - a little too on the nose, but Wimhurst creates believable characters in wild scenarios and her prose is full of drily funny one liners. Highly recommended.
Sharon Eckman is an actor, singer and writer. Winner of the Time Out Travel Writer of the Year, she has been longlisted twice for the Fish Memoir Prize, shortlisted for Words & Women Prose competition and the Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship Scheme. Short fiction has appeared in Shooter Lit, Words & Women: 3, 100 Voices: An Anthology, 100 Voices for 100 Years and New Flash Fiction Review. She is currently working on a novel and has just completed her first short film. Her website is here.