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Wednesday, 01 October 2008 02:00

Out of the Wreckage

By  Lisa Witepsky
The back of Allan Kolski Horwitz's Out of the Wreckage reads thus: "The dream and the dream situation; the dream-like; the waking fantasy; the reverie; the parable that instructs; the story that informs; the story that becomes a slip of the mind…"

It's clear that this isn't straightforward reading; even for prose. But playing with words is Horwitz's specialty – his oeuvre spans poetry, plays as well as prose, and it's clear he enjoys having fun with them, using words to cast spells and weave moments, in a way that's very much beyond the obvious.

Reading Out of the Wreckage does indeed feel like walking through a dream: the stories hover beyond the everyday and they have an almost surreal quality. At the same time, Horwitz has a short, sharp, simple way of writing that is very effective in setting a mood and creating tension.

I must admit that this isn't my type of read. Although Horwitz's skill is self evident, and some of the stories lingered a while in my head (I especially liked the tongue-in-cheek bitterness of 'A faraway shopping mall' and the acerbic irony of 'Unloaded Rubbish'), I don't like it when I'm kept at arm's length by the writer. The sense of disconnection and detachment that pervades most of the stories is undoubtedly what gives the prose that dream-like quality, but it makes me feel as if I'm watching scenes from behind a smudgy glass screen.

Don't take my word for it though – I'm distinctly concrete in my thinking, but if you enjoy letting your mind meander through the looking glass, then this dream world would probably hold great appeal.
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