Book Review: The Broken Spiral – Ed. R.M. Clarke

Posted February 1, 2018 in Print

The Broken Spiral

Ed. R.M. Clarke

Mutiny Publishing

The Broken Spiral is a worthy collection of 20 short stories by Irish writers, in aid of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. It features a mix of prominent, up-and-coming and familiar names, including Louise O’Neill, Claire Hennessy, Colin Barrett, Pat McCabe, June Caldwell, Lisa Harding, Oisin Fagan and Alvy Carragher.

Taking inspiration from the DRCC’s logo of a Celtic spiral – broken in parts; symbolising the labyrinthine, two-steps-forward one-step-back path to healing that survivors of sexual violence and trauma face – the stories are united by a single theme, “the long and winding road back”. They are sensitively selected and trauma is often circled around, at the centre of the story but not explicit.

Perhaps the most direct is “The Letter” by R.M. Clarke, a volunteer with DRCC who pieced the anthology together. Caldwell’s “Droning On”, about a dealer in Ballymun, provides the joy of a just revenge and exquisite comic relief. “What You Don’t Know” by Fiona O’Rourke, piques interest as a man on his way to a funeral debates with his father’s ghost in the backseat.

Some stories wind far back into wells of pain, such as Eoin Dolan Lane’s “When Blue Snowflakes Fall” and Sinead Gleeson’s “Counting Bridges”. Others such as Mia Gallagher’s touching “All Bones”, about the fragility and vulnerability of love after abuse, and Alex Reece Abbott’s “The Call of Blood”, about one sister trying to reboot the selective memory of the other, leave readers with a sense of fragile hope and invite them to begin again.

Words – Maryam Madani


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