The April reading group meeting read, enjoyed and discussed Rachel Trezise’s short story collection: ‘Cosmic Latte’. There was universal agreement that these are powerful stories, told predominantly from the vantage point of displaced voices. The characters are either geographically displaced from a homeland, or are psychologically displaced by grief and absences. Trezise juxtaposes humour and warmth with dark undercurrents, creating characters who are multi-layered, fragmented and complicated. In the first story, for example, there is Welshman Steffan, geographically displaced in Prague on a stag do, but more distantly displaced as a widower in a group of men with partners and families. Then there is working-class Joanna from Pontypridd in ‘Hard as Nails’, who’s narrative becomes disturbing in the unfamiliar setting of Benidorm, but who is also shown to be an outsider in every day life as she struggles to care for, and understand the needs, of her handicapped child. There is the grieving wife and daughter of a murdered man in Ireland in ‘The Blue Ruin Cafe’, both displaced by the urge to upkeep the presence of the past in the present, occupying a strange no-man’s land of memory and madness.
The overarching success of the stories is their endurance in the mind of the reader. Many of the stories end ambiguously and open-endedly, liberating the reader to consider the fate of the characters for a long time after the reading is over.
Next month, we will be discussing ‘The Human Condition’ by Rhys Davies. The group will meet on Tuesday May 5, 7pm at the Harp. Bangor. Come along for a fun and stimulating discussion!