‘Hugh Lomax’, by Bridget Penney

“Let me tell you about something that happened a few years ago.” This is how Penney’s story begins, and I’ll say as little about the rest of it as possible. It’s one of those oblique, autumnal stories that work best on their own, subtle and unhurried terms: subtle and unhurried, but no less sly for that. It will help if your relationship to books and book people – ­– horrid term – is a sympathetic one. If you’ve never lingered over secondhand book stalls (“Desolation Angels sells, and I replace it with Carlos Castaneda”), if you’ve never read to the end the obituary of a half-forgotten writer you never knew in the first place, if you’ve never listened to and loved a Backlisted podcast, then this might not be the story for you. But if you have, then it might be, and perhaps we could be friends.

(in Gorse 6)