Thursday 23 November 2023

Charlie Hill, "Encounters With Everyday Madness"


Charlie Hill is a critically-acclaimed writer of novels, short fiction and memoir, whose work has been compared by his peers to Kafka, Georges Perec and Beckett. His new book of short stories, Encounters With Everyday Madness, is published by Roman Books, as part of the Stretto Fiction series. His website is here

About Encounters With Everyday Madness, by Charlie Hill

Encounters With Everyday Madness is a collection of short stories about the manifestations and causes of contemporary "madness." Looking at grief, PTSD, romantic obsession, domestic oppression and work, it asks the reader to reconsider what they know about "difference" and the psychological other.

Below, you can read an excerpt from one of the stories. 

From Encounters With Everyday Madness

A New Job

Today there is a difference. He wakes as usual to a residual fear from dreams that seep and overflow, his eyes are heavy-lidded – it is as if he knows he will not like what he sees when they are open – and yet, despite it all, his heart is light. This is because today is a new day. Today he will catch a bus he doesn’t know and travel to work in a new job in a different part of town. Today he will begin again.

He was in his old job for five years. Five will-sapping, personality-crushing, energy-draining years. People there joked about his leaving. They referred to it as his escape but they were missing the point because this is precisely how he views the change. It has been a long time coming. It is not just the particulars of the position – it is, nominally at least, a promotion – but the fact that it will allow him to make a fresh start. He understands this concept is a loaded one but it is no less a necessary goal for all that, for he was tired. He was tired of his job and he was tired of the people he worked with; he had played out the novelty of spending time with "colleagues" – a word he finds strangely infuriating – who, if asked to name his favourite music or novels or TV, if asked to describe his hopes, dreads and perversions in a sentence or two, would have been so far off the mark they may as well be talking about a different person: he was tired of the fact that the incremental degradations of this supposed familiarity made him somehow smaller and less vital than he was or could have been.

Now fully awake, he is ready to begin the process of renewal. He showers, deciding not, for once, to condition his hair. He dresses in a stripy shirt before choosing to wear instead one decorated with bold flowers; for breakfast, for a change, he takes an omelette, made with a shake of soy sauce, and a hefty dusting of the chilli powder he keeps for every other Friday night. He has never eaten this much spice in the morning and the effect is invigorating; he  blinks his eyes and there it is, his kitchen, hall and bathroom the same of course, but shifted on their axes too ...

No comments:

Post a Comment