Saturday 15 August 2015

Canvey Island Baby by David Turnbull - Kitchen Sink Gothic

Does life get much gloomier or more grotesque than in David Turnbull's Canvey Island Baby?

Patsy will do almost anything for his wife, Chloe, but even he, born and brought up on Canvey Island, is almost pushed to the limit when they win the draw at the annual Boxing day party at their local club to decide who will "become surrogates in the coming year."  For childless couples this is a must and they are the envy of all their friends, but Patsy isn't so sure.
For a start off it means him hanging around the floodwall every night, whatever the weather, looking for their prize.
Canvey Island baby.
Even his grandfather, a hard man who "always seemed to be involved in pub brawls", berates him when he tries to get out of what they have won and calls them monsters. "We live on the land and they live in the estuary - but they're our kin, Patsy. Blood of our blood."

It's an unholy alliance that has existed for centuries, one which, for all his disgust, Patsy can't convince anyone, even his wife, they would be better without.
"“The flood of ’53 wasn’t the first,” he said. “They knew it wouldn’t be the last. That’s why they built the floodwall. But there’s been a community living out here since long before Roman times. The land was flatter then, no buildings and stuff. Floods would come, ruin all the crops and wash away the huts. People got drowned. Women and children got drowned. So here’s what I reckon. They evolved, Patsy. They became… What’s the word?”
" “Amphibian?”"
Don't expect anything Lovecraftian. This is no twist on Innsmouth, but something just as dark, equally grotesque. A uniquely strange alliance wrought deep in the past but still practised today - amongst the refineries and council estates of David Turnbull's Canvey Island.
"When he entered the living room with a mug of tea in each hand Chloe had it pressed against her chest, hand resting gently around its hairless skull. The sound of its greedy, wet slurping turned his stomach. When he placed one of the mugs down on the coffee table he saw that its teeth were clamped firmly to the pale flesh of her right breast. A trickle of blood was running down, staining her open nightdress.
"“Does it hurt?” he asked.
"“Nips a bit,” she replied. “But I reckon I’ll get used to it. I’ll need to start drinking Guinness to keep up the iron in my blood.”"

Read David Turnbull's story Canvey Island Baby in Kitchen Sink Gothic. Try it - and the other 16 stories, some darkly humorous, while others are more than weirdly strange and occasionally horrific. None are less than memorable.

trade paperback:   £8.99  $11.99

Kitchen Sink Gothic includes:

1964 by Franklin Marsh
Derek Edge and the Sun-Spots by Andrew Darlington
Daddy Giggles by Stephen Bacon
Black Sheep by Gary Fry
Jamal Comes Home by Benedict J. Jones
Waiting by Kate Farrell
Lilly Finds a Place to Stay by Charles Black
The Mutant's Cry by David A. Sutton
The Sanitation Solution by Walter Gascoigne
Up and Out of Here by Mark Patrick Lynch
Late Shift by Adrian Cole
The Great Estate by Shaun Avery
Nine Tenths by Jay Eales
Envelopes by Craig Herbertson
Tunnel Vision by Tim Major
Life is Prescious M. J. Wesolowski
Canvey Island Baby by David Turnbull

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