Words by Yoko Isami
Before I was involved with Altrincham Word Fest, I was really an avarage reader, just reading books that caught my eye. I had some favorite authors, but that was it. I thought that was what everyone was doing. Then I noticed my colleague was on her small mission to read books by authors from the North or published by small, independent publishers. Are the books written by Northern authors any different except for the locations? Are the books published by smaller publishers more edgy than ones from publishing giants? What about self publishing? I’ve only just started this small mission alongside my colleague, and here it is, the book called ‘Quartier Perdu’ by Sean O’Brien published by Comma Press has arrived.
To my shame, I’ve never heard of this British author, Sean O’Brien, before, partly because he is better known as a poet, though he wrote two novels and a short story before ‘Quartier Perdu’. But often it’s good not to have assumptions, the surprise you’d get is bigger and nicer if you don’t have any information about what you’ll embark on, and what a nice surprize this was!
The very unfamiliar sounding title ‘Quartier Perdu’ (It’s the title of one of the stories. it means obsolete, too) already gives us an idea that this is a collection of stories about something mysterious. The book is divided into three sections and each section has six short stories, most of them are about ten pages. Some of them grip you right from the start, some are slow starters with not much happening until the very end but all the time we are kept entertained with his sharp eye for the human psyche . I haven’t read his poems yet, but I’m sure his strength as a poetry writer adds to his fiction writing. The stories are mostly set in a past when there seem to be more mysterious, bizarre things occurring. Psychological rather than graphic, these stories will leave you in the chill and the wonder longer.
Sean O’Brien will come to The Whitworth gallery on 6th October to perform his poetry alongside Deryn Rees-Jones as part of Manchester Literature Festival. Music will be played by Basiliisk Duo from the Royal Northern College of Music.