Monday, October 29, 2007

Book Review: Barcelona Plates by Alexi Sayle

A collection of 14 short stories by the anarchic Alexi Sayle might seem like a strange combination, considering the general blandness of this genre. This collection, however, whilst varying greatly in quality, cannot be said to be bland with some quite provocative mini plots and taboo subjects dealt with. Indeed, the opening story may offend some readers as much as it delights others and one story about a cannibal is like an Edgar Allen Poe story for the modern world. Unfortunately, not all the stories in this collection are of the highest quality with a few seemingly pointless tales, punctuated with irreverant views or bad language to spice them up. Indeed a few of these "stories" could not really be said to be stories at all, simply observational rants.

These shortcomings aside, Barcelona Plates is at times an enjoyable read and fans of black humour will find something to chuckle about in a number of the stories - I particularly liked the idea of how employees for Disneyland were enslaved and the title story is a sick "up yours" to all the Diana conspiracy theorists of the world.

As collections of short stories go, this is one of the better ones I have read, indeed, one of the few I have bothered to get to the end of. Alexi Sayle, whilst struggling to find a point in a couple of these stories, has most certainly breathed life into the largely moribund genre of short stories.

I would strongly recommend that anyone interested in the Princess Diana story read the Barcelona Plates title story, along with those who find her story as boring as I do - Sayle has written an excellent alternative explanation for her death. For those readers looking for something they can pick up and put down with long breaks in between, this collection of short stories is a useful book.

Score: 6.5/10

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