Author Robin McLean is not afraid to walk on the wild side. A former lawyer who spent 15 years in the Alaskan wilderness making pottery, her writing is every bit as fearless and unconventional as the woman herself. Her latest collection of short stories, Get ‘Em Young, Treat ‘Em Tough, Tell ‘Em Nothing, is a complex, and sometimes perplexing, study into liminal spaces.
Her wide-ranging cast of characters oscillates between life and death, city and badlands, sanity and chaos. Highlights include House Full Of Feasting, in which a young couple plots to murder the kindly old man they rent their lodgings from. Cliff Ordeal is the tale of a man who falls from a precipice and clings to a tree, imagining all the fantastical ways he could be saved while repeatedly being drawn back to the sad reality of his doomed love for a former colleague.
The meandering, metaphor-laden writing style takes a little getting used to but begins to grip as the collection goes on. While readers who prefer their stories to have clear meanings will find themselves frustrated by the dizzying ambiguity of her work, for those who prefer a little abstract with their art, McLean is an author to savour.
Get ‘Em Young, Treat ‘Em Tough, Tell ‘Em Nothing, Robin McLean (And Other Stories)
Price: £11.99. Info: here
words RACHEL REES