Monday, 10 September 2018

'Sleep'



Another substantial tale from this new Tartarus collection, 'Sleep' begins with a portrayal of what seems to be a mother fleeing domestic violence with her small son. Rosy and her son Tom (aka Boo) move into a grotty flat on the outskirts of a small English town. They are travelling light. We find that Tom's arm has been injured. But Rosy's behaviour is odd -  why does she try to ensure that Tom can't get into her bedroom when she sleeps? Why is she alarmed when she sees her son approach a dozy sheep? And why can't Tom be trusted to go to school?

As the story unfolds it becomes clear that this is a modern take on a strong, disturbing theme - how far can parental love go? And what will a mother do when she is at the end of her tether? It's a remorseless, bleak story, but as with the earlier tales mentioned below it is not presented in overblown, melodramatic form. Tom is a very believable little boy, Rosy a typical-seeming mother driven to the end of her tether.

I'll need a while to recover from this one. It confirms my view that Carly Holmes is a very gifted writer, and that her imagination is a weird and sometimes very dark place.

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