(Halfcut Publications, 130 pages, paperback; ISBN: 0-9549535-1-7.)
A versatile author whose work ranges from speculative to dark fiction,
from SF to slipstream, Andrew Hook has produced so far the acclaimed
collections The Virtual Menagerie and Beyond Each Blue Horizon.
Residue, his latest collection assembling nineteen stories -
some brand new, some previously published in various magazines - is
somehow an atypical book where Hook displays another side of his writing
ability which expands beyond the boundaries of genre fiction to focus
on human condition and human relationships.
A non-genre body of work Residue in other words presents us
with an intimist version of this writer, who, with a disenchanted view
of the world and of its human inhabitants, explores the secrets of relations
such as friendship, love stories, office acquaintances ("Paper
aeroplanes", "Doors, windows & gutters", "Document").
Nothing escapes Hook's inexorable analysis: love affairs undergo a
ruthless autopsy ("Never doubt my love for you"), male sexual
fantasies are depicted and dissected as in the outstanding "People
you know who excite you" and, most of all, the more basic and perilous
of human relationship, that between man and woman, is examined with
a sense of pity, comprehension and human sympathy ("Tight").
Plots vary. In "Dirt" a loner observes his life trapped in
a downward spiral, while in "The stone box" - a perfect, tiny
piece of fiction - a stone retrieved from the river becomes the key
to a beloved memory.
Sometimes, however, plots do not exist or do not matter at all and
the story is constituted by sheer introspection, where the author digs
into his own soul to unearth fragments of truth which concern us all.
This book will entertain you, because Hook is an excellent writer,
but, more importantly, will make you think -- which is what fiction
should always do.