‘Bulk’ by Eley Williams

There is a heart there big enough for me to lie upon and sleep and not touch the rocks if I curled up with my knees tucked under my jaw.

I like socially observant writers: those with a sharp eye for absurdities, an ear for the fall of different kinds of silence, a feel for the heated cheeks of the unsaid.  I like very clever writers too: people who can play with words, tease them and weave them into a seriphed wink. But to find someone who can blend those talents with such gentle compassion for the queer delicacies of the world…well, that’s a rare treat. Enter Eley Williams. Yet with such a wordsmith it’s important not to forget her exquisite imagery. Fighting pelicans in Hyde Park. Boiling birds for haute cuisine. Unfortunate walrus videos.

The beached whale of ‘Bulk’ lies stubborn in my mind. It sits heavy across the entirety of the story, the characters’ thoughts and actions and interactions clambering on and around it. It’s a physical space to anchor the gathering crowd’s fears and foibles. Its silhouette contains overlapping symbolism, and decaying certainties. It is also just too big a thing, an awkward affront, an interruption to the way things are (“do you think we can push it back?”).

To balance a story in, on, and around such a beast should be tricky. Williams makes it look effortless.

First published in Attrib. and other stories, Influx Press, 2017

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