Review of Snapshots by Paul Brazill (Pulp Metal, 2012)
Paul Brazill burst on the flash fiction crime scene in late 2008 and he quickly developed a reputation for dark, inventive, clever and witty stories. Snapshots is a collection of 21 of his short stories published on various online magazines between 2008-11. The tales mostly focus on the everyday, gritty underbelly of society - lowlife criminals, chancers, losers, affairs, prostitution, robbery, murder, seedy pubs, drink, drugs and rock n’ roll - and whilst they are dark, there is also an undercurrent of humaneness, wit and warmth. There is a strong element of his adopted Poland throughout, but the stories are undoubtedly British in character and feel. Like the vast majority of collections there is a little unevenness across the pieces, with a handful of stories a little underdeveloped, There is undoubtedly, however, some very fine pieces of writing here. Brazill writes in colourful prose, has some lovely turns of phrase, and is handy with an effective simile (though some are used a little too often). What I would really like to see is what he could do with a longer format - even a novella the same kind of length as Gerard Brennan’s excellent, The Point. My money’s on it being a knockout. Whilst we wait for that, Snapshots is a visceral, enjoyable introduction to one of the most productive and entertaining practitioners of crime flash fiction.