It’s a simple premise: a stag do in Dublin. The story is clever in how it uses the homogenising refrain of ‘all the boys’, as well as the kind of searing satirisation of a familiar genre of person – “He’ll take the piss out of Caerphilly’s clothes shops, and say David Beckham wore a pair of shoes just like these to the Iron Man 3 premiere. And that will be it: Peacock will be called Iron Man Three for the rest of the trip.” – to obfuscate from what is occasionally very tender and nuanced characterization.
The real excitement of this story though, is that it’s written entirely in the future tense. Something I love about short stories is that their brevity seems to facilitate and encourage risk-taking, formally. I think a real measure of innovation, though, is when it’s done so deftly it recalibrates your thinking while reading it, until its innovations seem entirely natural. The way the story is written gives it a real propulsion – the future tense implies intent, I guess, which carries a forceful momentum, especially as the events of the story veer from the bathetic to the prodigious – while also disorientating the reader through its gentle dislodging of temporality.
First published in We Don’t Know What We’re Doing, Faber & Faber, 2016, and anthologised in The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story, ed. Philip Hensher, 2018