Rev: Hope against Hope and other stories


book review: Hope against Hope and other stories, by Stella Benson

a collection of stories on lives adrift at sea, and then an ending in a sort of anti-grounding. this book tells stories of the mind and its incompatibilities with physical entrapments

stella benson is my favourite author, and this, i think, my favourite of her works.

there are two things which consistently characterise her writing: the first is the use of ellipses as omission of unnecessary, admitting spoken words to often be irrelevant to what’s beneath. it gives the feel of grasping at a partner not quite seen, barely misheard, always just there out of reach. the accidental necessary walling of the self against the world.

the second is her power of straight-face. jokes are mixed with horror mixed with bland tepidities to leave the reader never knowing quite what’s coming till it’s come, until you realise you’re laughing or you’re crying or annoyed and have to think of just how was it that you got to be that way

i think that she’s best suited to these shorter transients. her novels are worth reading, yes, and filled with much the same in character, except she gets somewhat distracted in the laying out and tying up, which pulls a bit away from where it is she writes the best