Book Review: Let Them Float // Katy Wimhurst

Let Them Float by Katy Wimhurst book cover

Let Them Float is collection of intriguing short stories headed up by the eponymous and longest of the collection. Without giving too much away, the stories use worlds that are slightly sureal to examine our own world, and the issues within it.

The collection is, I feel, best read with knowledge of Wimhurst’s previous collection Snapshots of The Apocalypse, for there is a unifying sense of purpose and apt use of other worlds to highlight the failings of our own. Yet the episodic, lancet focused, nature of the stories happily permits dipping in story by story without having read any of the others.

Perhaps that is what makes such collections such an engaging read. It is the underlying conflict between the individual nature of each story and the matrix they form when viewed collectively. If I were feeling kind, I would suggest that is why they are seen less frequently in reviews, for that inherent conflict in focuses can make them harder to pin down. While that makes them all the more enjoyable to read (and re-read as I have done to refresh my memory at points in writing this) it does make them harder to review.

It would be a little lazy to repeat some of the wider points about short story collections and their place in publishing that I made in my review of Snapshots of The Apocalypse, but it is worth highlighting the importance of book short story collections and a literary environment that encourages and supports their writers.

Turning back to the stories themselves, Wimhurst adeptly uses a light touch – you only realise that a seemingly innocuous turn of phrase has wormed itself unseen into your mind, once your eyes have been drawn on to the next sentence. These phrases do not grab your attention through vividity or shock, but through their positioning and the interplay between generic expectation and reality.

There is also something particularly grounded about Let Them Float, be it the attention to the mundane details of life – that other writers might elide – or the sense of normality even when describing the surreal, which rather than clashing with the fantastical elements of stories, intensifies them. Perhaps it is this that really shows Wimhurst’s skillthe ability to bridge the ordinary and extraordinary and so use the lens of fantasy to magnify reality and from there point to issues that are far too frequently elided from literary consideration. I found the story ‘Duskers’ particularly impactful.

Such a focus could overwhelm the writing, but Wimhurst’s skill, and wry humour, avoids the collection feeling didactic or pessimistic. In places, you might also think the stories will be predictable, for example when I saw the story called ‘Gardening with the Messiah’ I thought I knew how the story would go, yet Wimhurst manages to twist that expectation very effectively.

The stories in Let Them Float are not neat parables, instead they come obliquely, sidestepping cynicism and so are all the more effective.

Words by Ed Bedford

Want more Books content from The Indiependent? Click here


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here