Jellyfish, By Janice Galloway
This is a short-story collection to savour, by one of the foremost Scottish writers of her generation. Janice Galloway’s title story concerns a mother and her sensitive four-year-old son in a harsh environment, where she tries to explain to him why people do cruel things to defenceless creatures, such as a stranded jellyfish. After the gentleness of that story comes the shock of And Drugs and Rock and Roll, set in a psychiatric hospital. There’s little rock’n’roll but an awful lot of sadness in this powerful story – and hope as well, somehow. Turned is a disturbing story, told through the mind of a badly injured eight-year-old girl whose schizophrenic mother has killed her father and younger sister. Opera motifs feature in two of the stories: in Fine Day, about a couple with a young son who are separating, Madama Butterfly brings some solace, while Carmen, with its rebellious bird of love, informs the story Opera, in which the ebullient Lola holds the young and quiet Michaela, who is in pursuit of a lost boyfriend, in thrall.