Bookshots: ‘Safe Inside the Violence’ by Christopher Irvin
Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review
Safe Inside the Violence
Who wrote it?
A regular contributor to short story magazines like Shotgun Honey, Needle, Beat to a Pulp, and Thuglit, Christopher Irvin has also written two novellas, Federales and Burn Cards. This is his first short story collection.
Plot in a Box:
These stories are a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people and the situations they find themselves in — and it’s not always pretty.
Invent a new title for this book:
I would call it: Hard Knocks
Read this if you liked:
Lamentation by Joe Clifford
Meet the book’s lead:
The protagonists in these stories are normal people going about their lives, often in difficult circumstances. Tommy is the main character in the title story, "Safe Inside the Violence", and his story stuck with me, covering the loss of an estranged parent, asshole neighbors and the difficulties of urban life.
Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by:
I could see Ryan Gosling playing this part, particularly after Drive.
Setting: would you want to live there?
Most of these places are pretty squalid, so no.
What was your favorite sentence?
I don’t bother calling the cops. If they didn’t come for my mother, they won’t come for me.
I’m not a big short story reader — I often get frustrated when a story ends more quickly than I’d like. That said, this is a very interesting collection of hard-boiled crime fiction, showing the pathos in everyday lives and creating empathy for the characters in a few short sentences. The people are plausible, the situations often grim, the outcomes hardly fairytale endings.
Irvin has mastered the noir short story, that’s plain. From Lem in "Union Man" to Tommy, in the title story, to John in "The Things We Leave Behind", these characters leap off the page and ‘sing’ in their uniqueness. None of the usual stereotypes here, just real people going through tough lives of one sort or another.
This young author has a great future ahead of him and I look forward to reading his novellas and, hopefully, his first book. This is a collection everyone should read — particularly if you’ve ever dreamed of writing this kind of fiction.
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