The New Testament by Jericho Brown
Published by Picador, 2014
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
The New Testament features one of the best opening poems I’ve encountered in a collection. It was the strength of this alone that convinced me to pick up the book, and though none of the other poems quite reached the dizzy heights of the first, I’m delighted to have discovered Brown’s work. Drawing on mythology, fairy tales, and Bible stories to comment on queerness, race, masculinity, and family, Brown’s use of language and imagery is bold and evocative. The poems I connected with on a personal level hit me in the gut, whilst others engaged in a deeply human, empathetic, and enlightening way. To create poems that lay bare raw emotion and individual experience, and yet provoke such social and political resonance is a real skill, but Brown pulls it off here with aplomb.
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The Victim by P. D. James
Published by Faber & Faber, 2019
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
As I started reading this slim Faber Stories volume, I realised I had already read the story as part of a full collection by James. I was more than happy to revisit it, however. It offers strangely serene yet disquieting insight into the mind of a killer, who spends more than a year methodically plotting the perfect murder of his ex-wife’s new lover. This in itself makes for a compelling enough narrative, but it also poses interesting questions about power and obsession: If your very existence is sustained by the need for revenge, will exacting it ever be enough to feel satisfied? Per James’ signature style, there’s also a small yet clever twist at the end, which adds another perspective to the story and forces us to reconsider who the true victim is. A great little read.
You can pick up a copy of The Victim from Book Depository by clicking here.