Title: ‘Distant Ships’ by Simon Van Booy
Collection/Anthology?: The Secret Lives of People in Love (Beautiful Books)
Date Read: 28 August 2010
Briefly: The narrator speaks of his life in a small coastal town in Wales. His nights are filled with purpose as he carries out his duties in a Royal Mail sorting office. His days however are mournful and directionless, taken up with his aimless wanderings around the town where he reminisces on events that have changed his life forever.
Afterthoughts: For me the plot for this story is pretty formulaic. It’s a tale of loss that’s been told a thousand times. Thankfully however Van Booy seems to tell it in a more profound way to anyone else. As always Van Booy is deliciously astute in describing the world around him – or rather, his character – and his decision to cast a postal worker in the principal role is a stroke of genius. In doing so Van Booy seems to ‘normalise’ events, and this in turn goes a long way to ensuring that the reader expresses complete empathy for the main character.
This story was read as part of a review of Simon Van Booy’s collection, The Secret Lives of People in Love. If you want to find out more about this collection then I invite you to either swing by my ‘forethoughts’ post, or to visit the product page on the publisher’s website; The Secret Lives of People in Love is published in the UK by Beautiful Books, and in the US by Harper Perennial.