cover image Endland


Tim Etchells. And Other Stories, $17.95 trade paper (370p) ISBN 978-1-911508-70-0

An overriding English sarcasm lends weight and humor to artist and writer Etchells’s rough-hewn collection, which includes tales first published as Endland Stories: Or Bad Lives in 1999 along with newer work, and strikes a sharp critique of Thatcher- and Boris Johnson–era England. Etchells cuts his prose with abbreviated vernacular and misspellings (heroine for heroin, “Lana Dull Rey”) and darkly graceful brutalist poetry (“the trees on the avenues all tangled in their branches with old audio tape and polythene bags hung in tatters”), setting the stage for characters trapped by circumstances beyond their control. In “About Lisa,” a four-page story told in rapid-fire fragments, the title character agrees to a date with her boss at a topless chip shop, blames herself for her sister’s murder, and begins losing sight of her image in CCTV screens. In the end, Lisa changes her name to “something more suited to her age, race, sex, and occupation. She calls herself SILENCE.” Elsewhere, a biker stops aging because “the king passed a decree to decimalise time” and remains “still 25... time stopped and ‘future’ endless.” There are moments of emotional resonance, though it often leaves a bad taste (readers may find uneasy common ground with the crowd in “Eve & Mary,” “as clueless as it was voyeuristic and desensitised to violence”). Etchells’s stories deliver a difficult, darkly funny, sharp critique of modern England, and live up to indie rock veteran Jarvis Cocker’s description in his introduction: “They are frightening, but they’re also necessary.” (May)