‘To Feed the Night’ by Philip Hensher

Another story with, like much of Hensher’s work, an intriguingly uneasy atmosphere. This fable about property and greed in the 1980s is full of strange cool gems of expression: “Inside, there was one man, at an empty desk, running a pen along his lips like a harmonica, and watching”; “golden light, electric with dust”, “The colour of the house became paler as he went upwards, like blood draining from the head…”. Hensher excels at defamiliarization, so even the most ordinary things are seen anew: an estate agency is described as looking as if “it sold…nothing but photographs”, a pistol is “needle-neat”, uneaten food on a plate is “the brown and sordid ends”.

(from The Bedroom of the Mister’s Wife, Vintage, 2000, or it can be read here if you have a subscription to Granta)

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