The Three Button Trick
The best short stories from perhaps England's finest young female comic writer.
This selection of Nicola Barker's finest short stories contains work first published in Heading Inland and Love Your Enemies 'Terse, droll, and unsettling tales from a highly idiosyncratic young writer. They share with her novels a conviction that life is stranger than we imagine and perhaps stranger than we can imagine and that only those willing to pursue extreme behavior of one sort or another (or incapable of doing otherwise) are likely to glimpse the true, deeply weird parameters of existence. A 16-year-old girl, in 'Layla's Nose Job', is burdened with a grotesque nose. But plastic surgery only serves to demonstrate that her strangeness isn't just skin-deep. The discovery turns her ingeniously violent. In 'Inside Information', Martha, a professional shoplifter, becomes pregnant and attempts to turn her pregnancy to criminal advantage, only to find herself harassed by her foetus, which not only can talk but proves to have grisly plans of its own. It's impossible, many of these stories argue, for outsiders to escape their alienation. In three related pieces ('Blisters', 'Braces', and 'Mr. Lippy') featuring Wesley, a charming but damaged young man, attempts at normality are grimly, inevitably defeated. In 'The Three Button Trick', one of Barker's most naturalistic, a middle-aged woman, who's been abandoned by her husband, discovers, thanks to the ministrations of several odd acquaintances, how little she needs him and how wayward and liberating true eroticism is. Those with a taste for odd, haunting characters, unsettling incidents, and a deadpan, savage sense of humor, will likely find these stories uniquely stirring.' - Kirkus Reviews
'If her prose style wasn't so devastatingly funny and totally original she might be someone it's fun to hate. As it is, reading her short stories makes you wish you had a best friend just like her... No-one else in England writes like this.' - Tatler