March 10th – The Massive Rat – David Mitchell
I’m a big fan of David Mitchell and am looking forward to his new book later this year. I was excited to find a couple of his short stories on the Guardian’s website. ’The Massive Rat’ features an adult Nicholas Briar, a pupil at the same school as Jason Taylor in David Mitchell’s novel ‘Black Swan Green,’ as his marriage falls apart. While bickering with his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Nicholas attempts to remove a rat from where it is stuck behind his fireplace, all while the prospect of losing contact with his young son plays heavily on his mind.
‘The Massive Rat’ is a touching story of a man facing sepearation from the woman he quite clearly still loves and the child he adores and features the softness of touch David Mitchell displays in his excellent novels. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed ‘Black Swan Green,’ it was nice to return to that world, albeit some years later. while the story doesn’t feature the big ideas of Cloud Atlas, it does have a great deal of heart.
Looking as a writer, the structure, themes and imagery of this story generate a faultless emotional whole. I’ll be taking this one apart in the near future as it is doing a lot of what I am trying to do in my latest piece of short fiction, ‘Soiled.’ I plan to see how this ticks and apply anything learned to my next draft.
You can read this story on the Guardian’s website – ‘A Massive Rat’ by David Mitchell. If you like it, grab a copy of ‘Black Swan Green.’