Book Review: How The Light Gets In

“the light’s been here all along, it’s always here, it’s just that you’re not always in a place where you can see it.”

How The Light Gets In, by Clare Fisher, is a collection of short stories that shine a light on individual experiences currently being lived in a UK city. They are fresh and at times mordantly funny. They put the reader inside the heads and hearts of the narrators.

textbook burglar offers a description of the feelings of relief, absence and expropriation following a broken relationship. Many of the stories deal with the disconnect between people, particularly those most cared for.

the thing about sheep conveys the need to understand those close to us, and the difficulty in accepting facets that do not segue with curated perceptions. Family members experience the same events differently.

Protagonists balance their desire to fit in with a crowd, the difficulty of doing so, with the easy option of staying home which can then feel like failure. They work hard and gain achievements that they wish others to acknowledge, watching as lesser accomplishments are remarked upon and celebrated by those around them. It is not unfairness but rather bewilderment, an unanswerable how and why.

Most of the stories are a mere page or two in length yet somehow delve into the complexities and variations of living day to day. Smartphones have become companions, the desire to have comments acknowledged online as necessary as to be noticed and accepted elsewhere.

how to talk about potholes looks at the relationship between parents and their grown up children, the concerns and difficulty of communication.

“we do care about our dad and we want to know: does he eat? Does he sleep? Does he feel a part of human life? Does he have hopes and plans for the future? But he will only reply by treating us to a slide show of that week’s most unusual potholes.”

Parents of young children remember how they once lived dangerously, indulged in escapades that they cannot now share.

Although dealing with a contained world these stories are broad in scope, mindful and searingly honest. They question norms and get below the surface. Even the most ordinary lives are coping with a myriad of complications.

This is a young, modern voice that delves deep into the heart of lived experiences in a contemporary city, exposing truths admitted to only in the deepest recesses of thought and feeling. The stories are personal, prolific and visceral. Relatable, readable and recommended.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Influx Press.

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