Paperbacks: The Separate Heart, by Simon Robson

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The Independent Culture

The protagonists of Simon Robson's debut collection of short stories are a frisky lot - ranging from a Tom cat, a man who drove a chariot in Ben Hur, a headmaster's disabled son, a pompous publisher and a girl who gets up with the birds.

Ironic and nicely feline in his observations, Robson's only flaw is a tendency to over-analyse and explain; though as the collection progresses this authorial direction proves to be more engaging than it is distracting. In the closing story, "The Last Word", Robson exits on a high, playing an astute meta- fictional game with both his characters and the reader.