Stuff, by Charlie Hill, is a short novella that takes the reader through a week in the life of a thirty-something year old man who has been struck by the understanding that his impetus to progress through life has stalled without warning. Having survived what he describes as a rocky patch when he was younger he had reached a place where he could derive pleasure from his simple day to day experiences. He could walk from his small flat to the local supermarket and see colour in the people and places he passed by on the way. He could cope with his job and the perverse changes being enacted. He spent time with his girlfriend and enjoyed their quiet existence.
And then something changed. He realised that
“The blaze inside me must have been dying for some time […] I just hadn’t realised.”
No longer could he find reasons for putting up with the curveballs thrown his way. The gratification he found in the small things – a chance meeting, a colourful butterfly or flower that he couldn’t name but wished to learn – was no longer there. There seemed no point to his existence and he lacked the energy to find a way to kick-start his being.
He turns to an old friend and to his girlfriend but realises that they are not responsible for helping him out of his discombobulation. He confesses to his mother, feeling safe in doing so due to her advanced dementia.
Something must be done. He cannot continue in this oppressive grey.
The writing is subtle and poignant. An ordinary life is depicted with its sensitivity to variances of mindset, sometimes difficult to reason with or control.
The denouement is chilling yet not without hope. This is an intimate, affecting read.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the author.