Review: “Sui Generis” by Marc Lowe

Sui Generis

The Latin phrase “Sui Generis” translates into modern English as “unique”. Marc Lowe’s chapbook of the same name, published by ISMs press, is therefore appropriately named. The twenty-three short fictions contained in its pages are some of the most unique I’ve ever seen. That’s not to say that they are the best, but the originality is a strong point in their favour.

The titular story, for example, left me somewhat cold. Although interesting, it has an overly fastidious feel to it that doesn’t quite work with the semi-mundane subject matter. That and an irritating strain of self-reference kicked off the collection on a low note. Fortunately, the very next offering “Fish: A Melodrama in Five Parts” leaves this territory behind and heads off into the realm of the absurd and the fantastic. It is the story of a man waking up with a fish in his ear, and it is sublime.

The collection continues in this fashion; each story is wildly different from its predecessors, both in terms of tone and style. The solid block of text that is “Jagged Edges (The Letter)” gives way to the more subdivided “The Baby is Safe”. The short, poetically intense “Anchor” precedes the longer and more minimalist “Light & Accomplished”. Each piece brings something new and innovative to the table.

Inevitably, some of these miniature experiments work better than others, but since few of the stories span more than half-a-dozen pages, one is never usually far from the next exciting development. The fastidiousness I mentioned earlier is present throughout the collection, but as the fictions mature it becomes far less irritating; the obsession of a collector rather than a bore.

So the collection is at times hit and miss, but the misses are at least honest and bravely executed, and most readers should find something to enjoy. It is the innovation that makes this collection stand out from the crowd, and in this field it would be hard to find a match. Sui Generis is indeed unique, and packed with more ideas and stylistic experiments than you’d fine in the average library.

As a free download from ISMs press, it is well worth a moment of your time. You can find it here: www.kissthewitch.co.uk.

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Christopher Frost is a writer from the North of England.