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Splinters by Joseph D’Lacey

Indulge yourself and let Joseph D’Lacey take you on a journey to the deepest recesses of his mind. From the author of Meat and Garbage Man comes a new collection of incredible short stories that showcase one of the finest writers of dark fiction. From the terrifying ‘Food Of Love’ to the haunting and lyrical ‘Mango Tree’, Timeline Books is publishing a Strictly Limited Edition of 500 numbered and signed copies.

Splinters is a brand new collection of short fiction from the l’enfant terrible of dark British fiction, Joseph D’Lacey. It features twelve stories ranging from the deliciously sinister to the outrageously fantastical. They examine the concepts of obsession, transformation and change.

Lenses – In the 21st century it seems that a week can’t go by where you don’t hear the phrase ‘We live in a surveillance society’. This first story explores this concept by following a group of people living in a large apartment complex. Everyone who lives there is watching everyone else. From straight voyeurism, to religious fundamentalism and even murder, each individual finds some way to justify and excuse his or her preoccupation with watching others.

Lights Out – Some people suffer from the condition known as ‘night terrors’.  Your brain plays tricks on you during that split second between consciousness and being asleep. The primal fear of the dark/the unknown messes with your head. Now, just imagine that everything that has terrified you into a state of near paralysis may in fact be real. Being a sufferer myself, there is a big part of me that can relate to this story. Common sense goes out the window and you’re in thrall to your fears. Arrgghh! Creeps me out just thinking about it.

Altar Girl – Is the grass really greener on the other side? Sophie has spent long years going through the motions in her dull, unfulfilling life. Suddenly she is given the chance to live the life she has always dreamed of. Things can only be better can’t they? This story features some of the darkest moments in the collection.

The Quiet Ones – A government sanctioned killer spies on a remote village where a society of content, well adjusted, happy people live. What is their secret and why are they known as The Quiet Ones?

The Unwrapping of Alastair Perry – A more overt take on the transformation theme. In this Kafkaesque tale, a man changes gender and then begins to evolve again into something else entirely.

The Mango Tree – An old man lives a quiet, unassuming life in a shack under the shade of a very special mango tree. Subtle and deceptively engrossing, this is one of the real standouts of the collection for me. A simple story but executed flawlessly.

Armageddon Fish Pie – While the world around him collectively goes through the seven stages of grief one man spend his time preparing for the end, having already quietly accepted his fate. It seems entirely appropriate that if the Apocalypse was due you would indulge yourself with your favourite meal doesn’t it? I know I would.

Kundalini – On the streets of New Delhi, an addict learns the truth behind some colourful rumors. Once again, the theme of change is explored using body horror.

Rhiannon’s Reach – A Story that explores the dark mystery of the sea and how it calls to some people. One man’s journey to uncover the root of his obsession and understand how his fear has come to control every aspect of his life.

Son of Porn – There genuinely may be no words that can adequately describe this story. You just need to read it. I think I’d like to watch people reading it just to see the reactions on their faces. D’Lacey goes all out with the down too earth tale of a futuristic male porn baron who gets pregnant. Comically surreal, saucy, and more than a little bit bizarre. Actually that may describe D’Lacey himself?

What They Want (What Aliens Really, Really Want) – Split into four vignettes, this collection of moments describes how different aliens view life on earth. I may never look at a blender or The Great Outdoors in quite the same way ever again. Though these little glimpses sometimes suggest longer stories, I like the way that they are also entirely self-contained.

Food of Love – To round things off the final tale is a simple love story with a horrific twist. A doctor and a nurse meet and fall in love. Unfortunately, an unexpected epidemic threatens to drive them apart.

Sometimes strange and occasionally shocking, think Tales of the Unexpected on crack and you’re about half way there. Splinters veers from the darkly sublime to the wickedly ridiculous and back again. I have to admit that I loved it all. This short story collection is a perfect showcase for a writer who likes to push boundaries and create fiction that is uniquely his own. If you’re not reading Joseph D’Lacey already, based on the evidence displayed in Splinters alone, you really should be.

Splinters is published by Timeline Books and available from 1st November 2012. For more information check out their website.

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