Play the Monster Blind

Play the Monster Blind - Lynn Coady Worthlessness. Disappointment. Boredom. Hellishness. Despair. The eleven stories in Lynn Coady’s debut collection (which followed her astonishingly successful debut novel Strange Heaven) are not for the faint-of-heart.

You won’t miss these things. You can’t miss them. But they’re not as simple as they seem. Worthlessness slips into striving. Boredom translates into comfort. Hellishness becomes familiar.

And, besides all of that, there are also some moments of wonder. One of these comes right at the end of the title story, which opens the collection, “Play the Monster Blind”. (So, you see, you don’t have to read far for a glimpse of something amazing.)

Obliquely contrasting emotions and experiences characterize many of the stories in this collection: euphoria and desperation, celebration and regret, stagnancy and propulsion, triumph and loneliness. It’s an unsettling but also powerful device; it’s the kind of thing that makes for a good discussion between bookish friends.

For me, the bulk of that discussion would centre around the stories’ endings; often the final scenes are particularly dynamic. It’s not so much that they offer a new piece of information that you might want to discuss, but that they reveal that you didn’t have all the information that you thought you had to start with, that you hadn’t even quite understood what was missing.

There are quotes and discussion of specific stories here, in my longer response to this collection, if you're keen.