Don’t read these dark stories all at once. Don’t try to shovel them down, gulping without flinching, as if by doing so you might prove yourself a ‘mensch’. You are not a mensch. Nobody is. Read these strange, intelligent, searching stories slowly, as long as it takes, with life and air in between, take a journey home, appreciate your partner, maybe catch up with someone you haven’t met since you were both greater than you are now. Enjoy a bit of gossip on your cellphone, take a little road trip and a bite to eat, maybe get a bit philosophical about the place of evil in our world. But read these stories in the gaps in between, in small sips, and you will understand, quietly, that you are not a mensch. Nobody is.
Miles Watson is a consummate master of the uncompromising dark. Every one of these uncomfortable stories turned me back upon myself: challenging the things I take for granted, value most, want to believe. He writes with a lightness of touch that is as disturbing as the feel of a fingernail on the spine when you thought you were alone. He has a moral compass – yes, there is moral compass in all these stories – but in every setup, every denouement, the moral compass spins again, unforgiving and elusive.
If you enjoy these dark stories, you have possibly missed the point (or they may be about YOU.) If you don’t, you needn’t feel smug: you read them anyway (and they may be about YOU.)