Industrial Roots by Lisa Pike
You don’t necessarily want to become immersed in the tight-knit, hard scrabble world of Lisa Pike’s stories but you can’t help yourself. The women narrators pulling you in despite your best efforts to shield yourself from the kind of stuff you’d rather not know about, like the time Marguerite decided to steal a baby, “Marguerite could feel something twist around inside her, grab her from the inside out and squeeze around both sides of her ribcage”, or the time Peter nearly punched his Dad, “I’m sick and tired of listening to you call my mother those filthy names”. Sure, you’re occasionally confused by the loosely related chunks of family history in Industrial Roots, “…each branch of the family having at least two or three Stellas, Walters and Wandas”, but stories about family life are necessarily messy and confusing even at the best of times, and this isn’t quite the best of times as many of the stories look back to a jagged past and uncertain future, grim humour never far from the next revelation, “Maude’s family also thought nothing of the way her mother’s second husband had delivered her ashes: in a shoebox with ADIDAS written on the side”. Best of times, worst of times or somewhere in between, before you know it, you’re fully engrossed in every one of these stories, panicking, sweating and hoping everything works out for the best, “…it was almost as if Cheryl was refusing this 1–3-day medical fact of the kidneys shutting down. ‘Rarely, rarely’, said the nurse, ‘does this go to the third day. The norm is 1-2. Was your mother a walker? A runner?’ Three days and there she was, somehow still alive”. Lisa Pike’s beautifully written stories are tough and visceral and had me constantly on the edge of my seat. Make no mistake, Industrial Roots run deep. Totally recommended.
Industrial Roots – Lisa Pike – publ. publ. Héloïse Press - £10.95