Sunday, 11 December 2016

'Hidden in the Alphabet'

The third story in Charles Wilkinson's A Twist in the Eye is a cracker, though not in the Yuletide sense.

Told in the first person, it recounts the misadventures of a film director whose use of his own son in a notorious film ruined the young man's life. The director returns to England for a reconciliation with his son, at the instigation of his niece, who also starred in his masterpiece. But an accident outside his hotel forces the myopic director to seek out an optician when his glasses are broken.

The accident is witnessed by a pigeon, whose somewhat limited intellectual perspective still offers a hint that All Is Not Quite As It Seems. This is playful stuff, as is the fact that the hotel is called the Acme, recalling the violent antics of Wile E. Coyote. And there is something of the grotesque and cartoonish about the fate of the director, a kind of Grand Guignol with ophthalmology. In a way this is Wilkinson's tribute to Poe, but I'll say no more for fear of committing spoilerism.

This is stylistically assured story, not supernatural but with a definite whiff of the weird in which an optician's eye test card is used to reveal a sinister conspiracy.

A Twist in the Eye

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