“The Dressing-Up Box”

David Constantine’s collection of short stories, “The Dressing-Up Box”, is, in many ways, unlike any other volume of short stories I have ever come across. Many of the narratives are slightly surreal, other-worldly, and in some cases the stories fail to follow the beginning-middle-end convention – not that there’s any problem in that at all (at least not in my book), but in more than one case I was thrown and forced to ask ‘so what was all that about?’.

There is undoubtedly a consistency of style throughout the book: the way Constantine handles dialogue, the occasional use of somewhat lyrical lists. Perhaps there is something poetic about the stories too, not necessarily in the language, but in the underlying tales themselves. In some respects you need to feel the narratives rather than read them. It’s no surprise that Constantine’s also a poet.

Looking at his bibliography, the short story appears Constantine’s chosen oeuvre. I may just have to delve into it for a second time…