We All Die in the End: Scenes From a Small Town by Elizabeth Merry
We All Die in the End Scenes From a Small Town by Elizabeth Merry
Published: 24 April 2020
Genre: Fiction, Short story
Available: Amazon UK
Sex: 💗 yes, nothing too graphic
Violence: 😨 yes, fights, spousal abuse, nothing too graphic
Reviewers Note: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Author Bio: Elizabeth Merry was born in Bangor, Co Down in the province of Ulster but has spent most of her life in Co Dublin. She has been writing for many years and has previously published a novel for children and many short stories. The present book "We All Die in the End" is a series of interlinked "scenes" set in a seaside town on the Ulster coast where most people know each other. It is a book filled with miserable couples, meddling siblings, or individuals struggling to survive. Some of the "scenes" are twisted, some are macabre, and more than a few deal with abusive relationships. But there is joy here too, and a lot of dark humour.
Elizabeth is, at present, working on a collection of poetry, much of which has been published over the years in literary magazines.
You can learn more about this author on firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @elizabethmerry and on instagram @codownreads
Author's Blurb: This is a diverse collection of interlinked stories set in a small, seaside town in Ireland. Some of them verge on the macabre; others deal with abusive relationships and many of them are grim. But there is humour here too - although it is dark humour:
"SADIE said nothing. She trimmed the fat off the kidneys and the liver, her fingers curling away from the soft, red slither and she held her breath against the faint smell of blood."
"So, I watched Lydia and waited for some bloody nuisance of a child to come screeching after her but no child came. Well, that didn’t make any sense but then Lydia stopped and I saw her speak to the doll. Oho, ARTHUR, I said to myself and I threw down the cigarette. Oho, I said, what's this? What have we here?"
"ANDY felt the unhappiness grow in his chest again. It was heavy and he fought against it. No, he said to himself. No. He held his arms up and out in front of him and made soft, crooning, engine noises."
"ROSEMARY always made Dominic wait outside the door until she was in the bed. He could feel the slackness in her thighs and arms; he didn't have to look at it as well. 'Come in,' she called when she was ready. Dominic bounced into the room half-undressed and dropped his shoes. 'Wait now,' he said, and brought in a bottle of red wine and two glasses."
This is just a flavour of the great characters who people this small town, where everyone knows their neighbours, and everyone else!
The Plot in brief: This short book is a collection of scenes, nineteen in all, set in and around a small Irish town. Each scene centers on one or more of the inhabitants, but the scenes are interconnected through family, friend and neighborhood relationships.
The Characters: I admire writers of short stories who can flesh out a character with a few strokes of the pen. They remind me of the artist who can draw, lightning fast, and within minutes deliver a charcoal drawing that is spot on. Of course not every writer is skilled enough to bring people to life in a brief few lines. Elizabeth Merry's characters leap from the page, fully formed. Within a few paragraphs, I can visualize them in my mind. Whether, fat or thin, young or old, angry or frightened, she makes them come alive.
The stories offer us glimpses behind the curtains of the house and the soul. We get to peer into our neighbors hearts and homes and see what they would rather keep hidden. Some are self-aware, some oblivious, some entitled, some enslaved. It's a voyeuristic peek into our neighbors lives, we can laugh, mock or draw back in horror at what they get up to when they think no ones watching. Even the simplest of people are more complicated than you'd imagine.
The Writing: The stories are told either in third or first person. The pace is fast and the stories zip along. I love, love, loved the dialogue, both internal and between characters. As an American reader, I really enjoyed, what for me was, the Irish dialect. It reminds me of my Grandparents who left Ireland in the 1950s and never shed their accent. The book is well edited and the prose is perfect.
Overall: I really enjoyed reading this short book. The setting was great, again, as an American, it was a glimpse into another country on an intimate level. The author doesn't shy away from the brutality of human life, clothed in normality, they go about their business. But she watches as they shed their skin and peel away the niceties, exposing all their flaws to the reader. I'd like to have a drink in the pub with Elizabeth Merry and have her tell me her neighbors secrets but then again I'd be afraid of what she'd see behind my curtains!
I rate this book 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐