Readings: A Voice Spoke To Me At Night, Helen McClory

I enjoy reading stories in public but only get occasional chances to do it so I thought I’d spend some time while in lockdown to record some myself. My set-up is pretty minimal but I hope the readings are still enjoyable. I’m aiming to keep to stories that can be read in 20 minutes or less, so these will all be pretty short works.

Helen McClory’s Mayhem & Death is one of my favourite books from the past few years. You can read my more in-depth thoughts in the review I wrote for Sublime Horror but the way McClory takes a selection of short works and flash fiction, all ostensibly unlinked, and build something quite remarkable from them is mesmerising. A Voice Spoke To Me At Night is a longer example of the pieces of flash fiction that sit between the short story Souterrain and the novella-length Powdered Milk.

I chose to read A Voice Spoke To Me At Night largely because its length meant it would satisfy my twenty-minutes-ish ideal but, in practicing my read-through, I became eerily aware that its themes of flat-bound loneliness and world-ravaging pestilence are all too relevant to today. Despite this apparently dark content, I like the narrator’s voice; scared but also indignantly bemused, ultimately entertaining a cautious optimism.

Many, many thanks to Helen and publishers 404Ink for giving me permission to record this reading. Mayhem & Death is available from 404Ink’s online store, along with other works by the same author.

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