Man Hating Psycho by Iphgenia Baal
I don’t say this often, which tells you all you need to know about the publishing industry, but this book of London set short stories by Iphigenia Baal reminded me of some of the ‘repetitive Beat Generation’ fiction that came in the wake of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. Books not written by one of the usual suspects, about the kind of thing most writers either haven’t experienced, ignored or gone out of their way to avoid. There’s plenty of men chatting fart in these stories who have no discernible virtues and are professionally adept at making others do the running, socially and sexually. There’s also plenty of people in Man Hating Psycho over-thinking social media likes, blue ticks and replies and not quite figuring out that the electronic stalker permanently glued to hand is failing to provide them the required serotonin hit or the space to think a bit more clearly - although a week off the booze and hash might help. It’s partly for these reasons Iphigenia Baal’s protagonists are rarely granted neat endings, and partly for reasons of skin colour, gender and class. Maybe best summed up in the penultimate story, Married to the Streets, about Carnival in the year of Grenfell, “A death carnival, which is what carnival is supposed to be. It was as if all the bullshit everyone’d had to put up with for the last three decades was laid bare and what was exposed behind it was the old London, unchanged, untouched, unrivalled, brimful of crims, a poltergeist at every corner.” And if you think Man Hating Psycho is all about the kind of people you don’t like, doing the kind of stuff you don’t do, in a city you don’t know, maybe you should look down at that mirror (and mobile) and see if they’re really all that different from you. Smart, sparky and occasionally bleakly funny Iphgenia Baal’s Man Hating Psycho is perfect.
by Influx Press - £9.99