These awards-listed, interlinked stories vividly capture the small, rarely spoken moments of our lives that reverberate with meaning, with darkness and with light. An adolescent son and his parents on their annual holiday at a Bournemouth guesthouse become intrigued with the glamour and otherness of an American family from Boston. An adult son and his mother navigate an unnerving relationship based on dependence and ritual. A woman transgresses her husband’s rules and his distaste for parties. A sex-worker empathises with the life of an elderly client.
From derelict industrial districts, to a lonely highway diner, to the faded charm of a British seaside resort, these are stories of growing up marginalised and living in working-class England and Australia. Thompson’s writing is so clear and deep and lucid you can see every crumb on the tablecloth, every drop of water on a person’s hair.
Broken Rules and Other Stories’ nuanced play of character, psychology and language, and its focus on the mysteries we are all involved in when we are out of our depth, exposed to our emotions, our wonders and our longings, marks the emergence of a remarkable new talent.
‘A voice in your head, full of texture and truth. Slices of life spliced to yours. Suddenly the stories in Broken Rules are happening to you, finding their way into your brain and heart. You feel as if you were walking with phantom limbs – those of Barry Lee Thompson. Magnificent writing – literature at its strongest, at its gentlest.’
Catherine de Saint Phalle, author of Poum and Alexandre and The Sea & Us