What haunts you? Sitting there late at night, in the silence, while that beer on the table gets warmer, and the rollback of the years flashes before your eyes? In many ways, the tales in Alan Beard’s superb collection feel like ghost stories. Not in the traditional sense — no white spectres wandering the halls or loud rappings on the walls from unseen hands. Rather, the citizens of the council flats in and around Birmingham are all haunted by their own past. What could they have been? Or how could their lives have been better?
With razor sharp prose, a dry British wit, and fearless dedication to not pulling any punches on his characters, Alan Beard gives you the West Midlands in all its grim glory. Akin to great Japanese writers, Beard cuts his prose to the bone, not bothering to waste any words on showing off his writing skills. It’s important, as that style gives the stories much more character as well as imbuing them with that superb reserved understatement that is born and bred in citizens of the Midlands.