'Mooney writes about loners and losers; about people on the fringes and those left behind. His characters are lost and broken; hard men and tough women often trying but failing to do the right thing. The writing is precise and uncompromising, and always surprising. The thirty-five stories drag you out of your comfort zone and stay with you long after you have read them.'
- Gary Duncan, Pushcart Prize nominee and author of 'You're Not Supposed to Cry'.
Mooney evokes a bilateral feeling of simultaneous dread and exhilaration with brilliance in this delicious debut collection of short stories. Dark, yes. But intoxicating and clever, with characters that pop into your thoughts days, weeks later. He writes with a wordsmith's ease, painting mental pictures as sumptuous as those hanging in national galleries the world over. "He had targeted a morainal gulley less than three thousand feet from the mouth of the volcanic crater at the snow-covered headwall; its gnarled fingers reaching up through the afternoon mist to scratch the swollen belly of the pregnant clouds." Simply gorgeous.
But this is not style over substance and the collection evokes a multitude of emotions. I laughed; I cried; I was excited by my voyeurism of the taboo. Some stories verge on flash fiction, yet still portray the characters with Kodachrome clarity. "...They didn't see the worms that plagued me: the rotten isolation of this life, the untimely dreams gone forever; the hollow, often-absent tree that this clamorous seed had fallen unbidden from." Not many collections are so heart-wrenching on one page, yet make you laugh out loud at the playfulness of form or language on the next. My particular favourites were 'Marion Morrison Stole My Hat', 'El Chupacabra' and 'Poster Boy' for their evocative imagery; I read others a number of ways: forwards, backwards and in selective parts.
A number of stories are clearly influenced by Mooney's favourite authors - listed in the acknowledgements - and are as slick as anything by Raymond Chandler. I will be watching this author with excitement and am already looking forward to his next publication. More, please!
'Precise.' 'Uncompromising.' 'Excellent.' 'Intense.' 'Amazing.' 'Dazzling.' 'Potent.' 'Engaging.' 'Distinctive.' 'Terrific.' 'Memorable.' 'Provocative.' 'Exciting.' 'Sharp.' 'Inspiring.' 'Moving.' 'Touching.
'Well-written.' 'Well-crafted.' 'Always surprising.' 'Often shocking.' 'Really great.' 'Highly recommended.' 'For the strong-hearted.' 'Loved it!' 'Very impressed.'
'A superb read.' 'Shocks and entertains brilliantly.' 'Descriptive and gritty.'
'An excellent writer.' 'Ingenious.' 'A real talent for developing characters.'
'Unique and very well-written.' 'Excellent .' 'Clever.'
'Some funny, some shocking and some quite disturbing.'
'Very talented.' 'Looking forward to more.'
'Smart, thought-provoking and engrossing.'
'These stories tend to be pretty dark and they focus on real life, especially the gritty underbelly.'
'Wide-ranging and thought-provoking stories.'
'Brilliant.' 'Fantastic.' 'Absolutely loved this collection of short stories.'
'An eclectic mix of characters and storylines.' 'Funny, poignant, sad and some downright mad!' 'Would love to see some of these characters developed into longer, fuller novels.'
'5/5. Would definitely recommend!'