The Atmospheric Railway, By Shena Mackay

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

This collection of 13 short stories, named after an experimental railway which ran for some months in the 1860s at Crystal Palace Gardens in London, takes the reader on richly imagined, metaphorical journeys through the minutiae and small mysteries of individual lives.

A character in "Swansong" explores the neighbourhood of her youth and spots the object of her girlish infatuation. An oversized woman in "Jumbo Takes a Bath" recoils from her own body as she readies herself for an assignation with a "friend of a friend". Shena Mackay's worlds often veers into suburbian pockets, seaside homes and motorway hinterlands and the journeys she makes are surreal and gently comic even if they end in disappointment.