Following Roy’s boyhood in post-war rural Bedfordshire Open Strings immerses us in the countryside with its changing seasons and characters who accompany Roy as he makes the transition from childhood to adolescence. Often naïve, Roy struggles to understand much of the behaviour he witnesses, yet makes discoveries about himself and the human condition.
Moving from ‘Flood’ with its echoes of Bruno Schulz’s The Street of Crocodiles and merging of memory, imagination and dream to the onset of school, that results in a vow of silence, and through the friendships, rivalries, hero-worship, first loves and moments of pushing the boundaries of behaviour that come with these early life stages, we arrive at ‘GDAE’ in which violence between strangers leaves Roy fleeing the scene as he has fled from other dilemmas.
A poignant and convincing novella, Open Strings examines the way we make sense of the world with its moments of euphoria, its bewildering protocols, the strange behaviour of others and the small acts of betrayal that mark us deeply. Humane, engaging and authentic, Open Strings is a finely-observed collection and a compelling read.