I have heard recently through the literary grapevine about some older, male authors who confess to only reading works by dead writers. What an arrogant and self-defeating attitude that is. Imagine all the glorious fictional worlds they’re missing out on, the energy and innovation of all that new writing that they’ll never experience.
Here at The Big Issue we champion as many new writers as possible, and this week we have another couple of whip-smart and razor-sharp novels by debut writers.
First up is Six Stories by the young English writer Matt Wesolowski. The book has a terrific and highly original structural hook, the story arranged as six separate interviews with six characters, each of whom was involved somehow in the death of a teenager 20 years previously.
Six Stories mirrors the format of recent true crime podcasts such as Serial perf-ectly, drip-feeding information and revelations to the reader, twisting our perceptions and expectations as it digs deeper into the case.
There is more than a whiff of modern horror here, and The Blair Witch Project feels like a touchstone
The events around the death of Tom Jeffries are eked out with skill and precision. A group of teenagers called the Rangers were at an outward-bound centre in the north of England called Scarclaw Fell when Tom went missing. A year later his body was found but the mystery of his death was never solved.
Wesolowski evokes the ominous landscape and eerie atmosphere of the area with sharp, direct prose, and through his podcaster, Scott King, he slowly unpicks the knots that tied the tight-knit group of Tom’s teenage friends together.