reviewed by Chris Richards.
A View from the Bridge: A Collection of Southampton Stories written by Scam Likely is a collection of short stories all based in Southampton. Scam Likely is a penname and their true identity is currently a closely guarded secret. No matter, we have their work to admire until fame calls them out!
In the book, there are 13 short stories plus the introduction, and every word is worthy. These are not for children and include explicit language and themes. Each are entirely worth every second of time, effort, and sleep I lost to read them. I’d like to think that even if you aren’t from Southampton, you’ll get the sense of familiar and pedestrian from all the people in the series. They are not caricatures, the tone is so deadpan that the characters are completely normal. The city is tangible and vivid to those who know it but even in the abstract, the ‘scene’ description works as a frame for each story and the collection overall. No matter who you are the Southampton-ness will rub off on you in the end.
Clive Barry (Chair, Southampton Guild of Florists) writes the introduction with a dry and calculated wit about Southampton from his perspective. The introduction is lead with an invitation to leave it until the end to avoid spoilers. You will be rewarded for reading, for the first time at least, the collection in the order they are presented. Each stand alone as a perfectly formed picture but like with any familiar cityscape there are returning faces and backdrops. The stories unfurl like an illustrated scroll, to reveal a complete and sprawling depiction.
In no order, ‘Fresh as a Daisy’ should be printed in a Gideon bible style Welcome Leaflet with a ‘How To’ guide to surviving Freshers’ Week and placed in all Southampton halls. ‘Dummy’ and ‘Common’ are perfectly unbalanced; ambiguity keeps you walking the edge of suspicion and relief. ‘Hellthy’ is a straight up horror, no take backs, just stares straight at you and makes you want to vomit. It’s one of my favourites. ‘All Fingers and Thumbs’ is a small social victory and a middle digit up at selfish, shallow idiots. ‘Cave In’ is alarming and funny, it makes you wonder if you now know what it’s like to be a terrible person. I hope this is the first of many works from Scam Likely, I am impatient to read more.
Independently published, this title is available now from Amazon in paperback or as an eBook.