Alistair’s Comments

(Thanks again to Alistair (H.A. Davies) for his comments on my stories – and also for his permission to reproduce them here. Such focused and thoughtful remarks are wonderfully helpful to a writer such as myself who in the normal course of events receives very little specific feedback. Please also see Alistair’s comments on my novel November, available on this website under ‘November’.)


I have hugely enjoyed Sweets & Toxins. You range so widely in mood and situation, in age-range and location, with a beautifully economical style and a great internal dynamic as your stories move quickly to their revelation. Yet there is a real profundity too in the sadness you find in human loneliness and in the very transient nature of togetherness, happiness and insight. I appreciate the sense your characters have of being unfixed in contemporary Europe and yet this also offers them the possibility of possibility and re-invention. You have managed to find here a very striking style for representing current times. I hope these stories receive the attention they deserve.


[S]omething I found in all your stories [is] that nothing is fixed and that things will change, very largely because individuals now have remarkable choices about where to live, who to live with and how to live.  Most short stories are about being trapped but you explore something else which I think is one of qualities of living in the present, at once liberating and yet at the same time profoundly disorienting. Writing has to be alive to the present – and yours is in a remarkable way. As I have said, Dalkey Press has produced a very attractive edition – I like the cover, layout and clear font, very appropriate given your clear, precise and sharp writing.