Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reviewing: "Dirty Old Town And Other Stories" by Nigel Bird

Featuring nine stories by Edinburgh resident Nigel Bird, this short collection features tales told by adults and juveniles dealing with dark days and even darker thoughts. The characters often are not happy go lucky folks. These are people trying to survive in a world stacked against them. As such, sometimes the language is a bit coarse but life is not all tea and crumpets for these folks.

This short book opens with “Drinking Wine.” She has kids at home and needs a break.  If the babysitter hadn’t arrived wearing a tight mini skirt, fishnets and a top that barely covered anything, maybe she wouldn’t have gotten the idea and then went to the bar called “The Dog and Dude.”  But, she did in her own sexy outfit and now a fellow drinker is making her feel all tingly with thoughts of Roger far from her mind. The night is young, the possibilities are endless, and things are going to go sideways.

The life of a janitor in a school is never an easy one.  Especially when some sort of stomach bug is going around in “Taking a Line for a Walk.”  Duke Earl has to quit painting the fence and go clean up the latest mess. He’s seen a lot of things over the years and knows his time on this earth is running out---one way or another.

In “Dirty Old Town” a man named “Chalky Fish” awakes from a beating realizing that not only does he massively hurt, but he lost a tooth and the sight out of one eye. He also managed to lose a button off his favorite jacket. At least the first punch had been good one because it knocked him out. The bad thing is the next day is going to be worse on so many levels.

The young boy is a long way from home in London every time he goes to visit his Gran on the island of Skye. This trip is different because not only did they have more stuff, but dad didn’t make the trip this time with him, his brother Davey and mom. Along with telling readers what life is like for the eight year old narration, author Nigel Bird weaves in just below the surface a bit of dangerous undercurrent in “Sea Minor.” Something is at work on this island where modern conveniences like television and computer aren’t possible.

Sometimes somebody gets the idea that it is their job to clean the city or village streets of what they think is human trash. The three women picked up by Brandon and his friends might have different ideas about that in “Sisterhood.”

Like in “Dirty Old Town” sport serves as a backdrop to “One hundred And Ten Per Cent.”  Vincent Love is trying to confine his running to the track. He doesn’t want to go back to prison and run in the yard ever again. Getting a good start whether or the track or running from the flashing lights of the cops is everything. No matter how fast he runs, he can’t run from the past.

Craig does not want to go down the chimney but dad insists he has to in “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight).” After all, dad intends to make sure the boy honors his promise to mom about getting her a pearl necklace.  Too bad the boy thought they would actually buy one.

“Three Little Birds” tells readers what they instinctively know. Some kids have that look in their eye of evil.  Danny had it and proved on occasion growing up. These days he is in adult, back in the area, and something needs to be done.

The pimp game has done okay for Brad in “Silver Street.”  He may only be 17 but he has plans. Big plans. They include a certain young lady because they are destined to be together.

This collection of previously published fiction in a variety of markets shares a common theme of loss and lament. Sometimes the situation is due to decisions and actions that the primary character did in the past and the character is struggling to turn things around despite the obstacles.  Sometimes it happens because not everything or everyone is as the primary character believed.

Sacrifice and desperate scrambling to survive are present in all of these good stories.  Dirty Old Town And Other Stories features dark works that take readers down the back ways, into seedy pubs, and places you may never have known about in merry old England. Tales of noir that pull you in quickly before spitting you back out like the loser you truly are at the very core of your being. These are not tales that make you feel good as many are truly at the end of their rope. No, these are tales that drag the ugly out into the light and make you look at it and identify with it on every level.

Dirty Old Town And Other Stories
Nigel Bird
Kindle E-Book

Author supplied a word document for this book for purposes of an objective review.

Kevin R. Tipple © 2011

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