An Imaginary Menagerie
We come to the thirteenth and final Chômu release of 2011, The Secret Life of the Panda, by Nick Jackson, a collection of exquisitely realised short stories that forms a fitting(ly unusual) cap to an exciting and rewarding year. So, what can you expect to find between the mysterious covers of this volume, with its beautiful and evocative artwork from Suzanne Norris? Many things as rare as the titular panda: a perfect mastery of the short fiction form that is both unmistakably contemporary and authentically beautiful, a fusion of realism and dream-like fantasy that is seamless, an ability to summon potent emotions with small details and show the internal through the external, and the spreading of a large imaginative canvas on which the characters remain vivid. A disappearing world of strange and private visions is here for you to discover.
Here are rumours of the secret life that have already reached us:
“With exquisite delicacy and a keen eye for the bizarre, Jackson (Visits to the Flea Circus) creates a series of moody vignettes taking readers from religious strife in 16th-century [Germany] to a jungle camp of [Cuban] guerrillas and the mundane hallways of a contemporary British school. … The spectacular “Boys’ Games” intertwines the confused cruelties of children in the schoolyard and men at war. And the otherworldly dedication involved in studying or recreating nature comes to life in “The City in Flames” and “Shell Fire,” respectively.”
- Publishers Weekly
“In romanticizing the uncanny, the fantastic and the horrific, Nick Jackson’s fiction emulates that of the great 19th century writers of suspense, Poe, Wilde and Shelley. With his unique marriage of subtlety and decadence Jackson is able to minimise the carnal horror whilst preserving the spine-tingling fear. Whether unleashing his ghosts or exorcising his demons, Jackson’s is an almost ethereal voice in a literary world of bloody over-abundance.”
- Rachel Kendall
“Nick Jackson’s fertile imagination is matched by his skill with the English language: writing about both mundane matter as well as fantasies made real seems so natural to him that the reader is left wondering why this shamanistic mind has not bloomed around the world – so many stories are here that suggest that his fount of inspiration is bottomless. He has perfected the art of short story writing (no mean feat): he makes us long for a novella or novel that would allow us to explore his talent even further.”
- Grady Harp
On Monday the 19th of December, there will also be a book launch for The Secret Life of the Panda at Olives in Norwich (40 Elm Hill, Norwich, Norfolk, NR3 1HG). The event will take place between 7.30 and 9.00pm. Nick Jackson will be reading extracts from the collection, and from 8.30 there will be a musical set from singer-songwriter Kimberley Moore. If you’re anywhere near Norwich, or if you’re a travelling kind of person, please do drop in.
Prize Draw for uniquely inscribed copy of The Secret Life of the Panda
The winner of last month’s prize draw for an inscribed copy of Here Comes the Nice is Thomas Strømsholt, who will be receiving his prize in the post soon.
We are presenting another prize draw this month, this time, of course, for a uniquely inscribed copy of The Secret Life of the Panda. The same rules apply as before: To be entered for this draw, please sign up here to our mailing list (or using the ‘Free updates’ widget on our home page) and send an e-mail with the subject heading ‘Secret Life’ to info at chomupress dot com. If you are already on our mailing list, naturally there is no need to sign up again – simply send an e-mail with the ‘Secret Life’ subject heading to the address mentioned. Only one entry allowed per person. Deadline for draw, the 30th of December.