Monday, 23 April 2012

Pictures From Hopper ~ Neil Campbell

This collection of short stories draws on the work of American painter Edward Hopper. The stories are short and full of life - adultery, marriage, alcoholism, violence and humour. It's hard to resist the urge to find the paintings that correspond (or partially correspond) with the story titles and 'read' them together (I didn't resist the urge - I went with it and very much enjoyed myself). Campbell's stories are deftly executed snapshots of life. 'Sun on Prospect Street' takes a beautifully visualised and unsentimental look at friendship as the reader follows Leo and Joe past the glue factory, the railway, the canal and onto the playing fields where their football skills and loyalty are tested. 'Piccadilly Gardens' is a bleak, carefully observed story about loneliness, secrets and petty cruelties inflicted by people who have no hope, while 'Vigilante Man' is a compelling monologue from a father: 'I'm a rational man. I just wanted to protect my family.' In very few words, Campbell creates a real sense of place and space. Even the shortest of these stories benefit from his 'understated but penetrating vision'.

Read an interview with Neil Campbell here.
Read 'Cars and Rock's here.
Read a sample of the collection here.


  1. I love this collection. Nice review, Carys.

  2. I wrote the reviews earlier this year, before you did your excellent review Nuala, which should be read if anyone is interested in learning more about the book before buying it: