Eyepennies by Mike O’Driscoll

It is always a good idea when launching a new imprint to ensure the lead publication sets the bar for all future releases, and judging by the quality of this novella, the bar has been set extremely high.

Eyepennies, tells the story of Mark, a musician, who after suffering a near death experience, is trying to piece his life back together.  However hindering Mark’s rehabilitation is his concern that he hasn’t come back complete, he thinks something has been left behind.

With Mark, who is loosely based on a real life musician, O’Driscoll has painted a classic tragic, battered,  bruised and rather unlikeable artist.  The sparse and sometimes pared down to the bare bones of writing narrative works really in conveying the demons that Mark carries around in his head.  The splintered way in which the story is told, with the narrative jumping between the past and the present, also helps to hold up a mirror to the splintered mind of Mark. O’Driscoll has really put a lot of effort into making Mark a truly hateful character, from his spiting the dummy out tirades as he tries to record new music, to the shocking way he treats his wife.  However there is a scene, that shocked me to the core, a scene that involves a pet, personally I don’t think this scene was needed, however I can sort of see why it was included in the story.

Like may of the great supernatural stories the reader is left wondering whether what you are reading is real or if it is just a figment of Mark’s broken mind.   This is a brilliant story that pushed me as a reader, as much  with it’s clever writing and beautiful prose as it did with some shocking scenes.

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