FEATHER: TALES OF ISOLATION AND DESCENT, by David Rix, Eibonvale Press, trade pb, Â£8.99 Â www.davidjrix.co.uk.
Reviewed by Stewart Horn
We first encounter the eponymous Feather as a teenage girl, ostensibly living with her reclusive and abusive father in a shack between the sea and a nuclear power station.Â In fact she is almost feral, foraging in the woods and combing the beach, eating what she can.Â She and her father live in dread of the measuring men, though who they are, or whether they exist at all, are never satisfactorily resolved.
She then appears in each story in this excellent collection, sometimes as a foil to the protagonist, sometimes in a more major role, often as an influence or muse to a creative artist of some sort.
The stories vary widely in subject matter and mood, some gothic, others more dreamlike. Â However, they share several recurring themes â€“ Rix is preoccupied with the nature of creative art, especially music, the meaning and nature of what we create and whether itâ€™s alive, and what responsibility we have for it.Â And the sea features strongly again and again.Â Most of his characters lack control over their lives, and Feather herself drifts like flotsam, washing up in each tale and playing her part until the sea reclaims her.
This book is complex, multi-layered and thought-provoking, with some beautiful and evocative language.Â He has sacrificed some clarity and coherence, but this is a unique reading experience.Â Highly recommended.