There I was at the start of the week, doing something everyone of has fallen victim to, if not daily, but weekly. Scrolling!!!! Yep, that dreaded contagion, which has caught even the most unsuspecting soul unawares. It’s social media’s equivalent of daydreaming, I wasn’t watching cute kittens or voiced-over dog videos, proclaiming how their lives are so bad… This time, I was dragged kicking and screaming down a rabbit hole of odd balls who video police stations, and police officers going about their business and claiming, they are keeping them in check and auditing them, because supposedly they pay their wages. Errr, you have to hold down a job first, thus paying tax, and how can you work full time, if you are harassing decent people whose job is hard enough already, without you shoving a mobile phone camera in their face. Anyway, it got me quite wound up, but it also reminded me of one of the short stories featured in this month’s first book review. It was about an elderly gentleman who spends his days watching the comings and goings of his street, until his curtain twitching catches up with him. The book is Watching The Wheels by Stephen Anthony Brotherton and published by The Book Guild ( www.bookguild.co.uk ) in February.
The book is a two-hundred-page collection of short stories, which examines death, the afterlife, bullying and old age. The first two stories are both set in a nursing home and by the end of the second one, I was rather uncomfortably dwelling on my own mortality and the thoughts of being sent to one, despite being only fifty two. May be that’s midlife getting to me. Another story that resonated with me, was about a ghost hunter who is afraid of ghosts, as myself, my wife and fellow librarian, Georgina, are big into the paranormal and have been on numerous organised night vigils. It struck me that that as with any job, the day you are not filled with any trepidation doing it, is the day you should quit. One other story follows a young man, who still misses his twin, who took his own life years previously. The whole sequence of the story takes place at night, when a mysterious woman enters his bedroom and in what can really be described as a mashup of A Christmas Carol on the star ship Enterprise Holodeck, takes him to meet the brother.
This English author Stephen Anthony Brotherton’s second book , his first was Fractures, Dreams, and Second Chances (2021). He’s been a social worker for almost thirty years and currently works for the NHS. He is a member of the Bridgnorth Writers’ Group and the Shrewsbury Writers’ Lab. He grew up in the West Midlands, but now lives in Shropshire.
Overall, this is a quick read, you could run through it in a day or dip and dip out over a weekend. The stories are all very different and engaging, they will either put a smirk on your face or ask you a poignant question. What comes across is Brotherton’s great eye for detail, as well as his ability to capture very normal situations and turn them on their heads.
Get online and order a copy or pop into your local book shop, then jump straight in, and as it states clearly on the back cover, ask yourself ‘what would you do in their situation?’.
Reviewed by Adrian Murphy
This review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour. To see what the other reviewer thought, visit their blogs listed below. Then, if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.