A series of short and not so short stories make up this composite work from author Barry Lee Thompson in Broken Rules and Other Stories, capturing the often cold, callous world of homosexuality; the emotionally challenging journey of young men venturing into the world of clandestine meetings.
Thomas has a gift for capturing people in their surroundings, whether it is leaning against a wall in the hope of meeting with a visitor to the school, seeking fulfillment in a chance meeting, or the almost sad inevitability of gathering spaces visited by men for the purpose of sex.
Nuance, textures, sadness, the cruelty of life for marginalised people is delicately and clearly created with characters that, because of their marginalisation, their unfolding of their sexuality, remain in the psyche.
Many of the short stories have been published previously as stand-alone pieces. The Americans is longer than most; receiving a special commendation from the Manchester Fiction Prize in 2009 it tells the story of a young boy fixated on a family of Americans staying at the Avenham, a family run hotel in Bournemouth. Told with a sparsity of words, a limiting of names, summer love unfolds filled with desire but also a sense of sadness as the summer and the love affair draws to its inevitable conclusion.
Captivating in its sparsity Broken Rules once again uses carefully selected language to paint a scene as intricate as a drawn breath, delicate and lightly balanced between the flouting of convention and the unrelenting rules of society.
Throughout the collection, the skilled use of words makes a subject seldom written about in such a manner, form into the reality of the ordinary in a world inhabited by those already marginalised by their location, birth or family circumstances. The hard working tough people who live in ‘working class’ areas of Britain are represented time and time again, in a world where to be different is to set yourself outside the norm or standards of that society.
Strange though it may seem, the elegance of Thompson’s words are strangely comforting, in a most unusual read, which will either be enjoyed for the immense skill and word craft of Barry Lee Thompson as he portrays a side of society seldom seen, or placed to one side, to be read another time.
|Author||Barry Lee Thompson|