‘The Haväng Dolmen’ by Chris Power

I wasn’t going to pick this story, which is from Power’s first book. I didn’t know which to choose, so I re-read them all again, and could have stopped anywhere, enthused about any of them. En masse, they throb, a collective sense of unease building throughout, amplified by the same character, Eva, cropping up in three linked tales. Throughout Power’s simple language deceives, obscuring complex themes that make his work well worth revisiting. ‘The Haväng Dolmen’ starts with an archaeologist’s talk at a conference in Sweden and accompanies him on a trip to a Swedish stone-age burial site. The experience is intense, reviving memories of a bitter childhood encounter with a mean French boy on holiday and the knowledge that we are all going to die. Sometimes, though, it helps to remember that everyone shares these thoughts, which is why I’m recommending this but hoping you’ll be inspired to read the entire collection. (Incidentally, I knew nothing about this book when I picked it up in a bookshop, intrigued but the scratched-out face of a woman on the front. I didn’t even know Chris’s gender. And my experience was probably all the stronger for going in blind, so I hope I haven’t given too much away.) 

First published on longreads.com. Collected in Mothers, Faber & Faber, 2018. Read it online here

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