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The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell {Goodreads}
Published by Two Roads in 2017
Hardback edition; 212 pages

I'm so happy I got to read this. Blending of fact and fiction, this is a fantastical and magical collection yet realist. There is a lot to read between the lines, Campbell doesn't lay it all for the reader because it is up to us to discover all the layers hidden in the stories. Fairy-tales are present throughout the entire collection but I guess that's not really a surprise. I love the way they were used to speak about all humane things, our darkness, our fears but also our hopes. Queerness and deformity are also present. The writing is beautiful and lyrical and worked very well for me.

My favourite stories were: 'Animals' (which opens the collection and it is dark, twisted, animalistic and beautiful), 'Margaret and Mary and the End of the World' (which tackles many issues - eating disorder, mental illness, pedophilia, etc - is almost impossible to name them all but it's a great story about a relationship between a mother and a daughter), 'The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night' (which is definitely my favourite story of the whole collection, written in play format about a couple who wonder about beginnings in the middle of the night; it brought tears to my eyes and had to re-read it immediately after finishing it), 'Aunt Libby's Coffin Hotel' (which speaks about death and about our fear of it), 'Human Satellites' (about a new discovery in the universe and how people react to it) and 'Bright White Hearts' (which is about an aquarium and where we get to explore how the world views deformity).

In in all, The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night is a great short story collection. Of course not all the stories impressed me or rather, I didn't get what they were trying to tell me. Might be the perfect excuse to re-read the collection in the future to keep uncovering its secrets.


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