My enormous thanks to freelance publicist Karen Bultiauw for sending me a copy of Punch by Kate North in return for an honest review. I really rather wish I wasn’t on a self-imposed blog tour sabbatical as I’d love to interview Kate about this collection of short stories so expect to see her on the blog in the future!
Punch is a collection of stories exploring the uncanny, the uncomfortable and the surreal in the everyday, at home and abroad.
Whether it’s a man with a growth on his hand, a couple trying for a baby, a woman finishing a book, a pope with penis envy, or a bullied girl, characters throughout the collection assess their surroundings and are often forced to reassess themselves.
Punch offers the reader a humorous and disturbing take on life in the twenty-first century.
My Review of Punch
A collection of quirky short stories.
Punch is utterly fascinating. I read the collection straight through in order, but I think actually it would be better to read these vibrant, intricate and eloquently crafted tales over a longer time frame so that their quality can be fully appreciated. Each story is an individual gem that deserves reflection after reading.
There’s such a range of material here. Kate North writes with a vivid intensity, creating atmosphere through magnificent use of the senses, so that in Punch the reader is transported to her settings; whether that’s a circus, a cafe or a spooky attic. Often there is a feeling of menace or something unsettling a bit like glimpsing something out of the corner of your eye and not really knowing what it is. I found this writing style totally captivating.
Kate North has a very sophisticated style too that incorporates themes that resonate in today’s society. Bordering fantasy at times, other stories are more prosaic but all of them are spellbinding. I thought the collection in Punch was perfectly balanced too with first and third person narratives affording insight into Kate North’s world. I have a feeling that some, like the title story Punch, may well be at least partly autobiographical and I felt that the author’s writing had a natural rawness alongside a mystical poise that was incredibly clever and interesting. Many of the stories have quite an ambiguous ending so that the reader can draw their own conclusions or continue the narrative for themselves, and since reading this collection I have found myself pondering the fate of Liz’s coat or the relationship between Paul and Lin for example.
Punch is an enthralling and often disconcerting collection. I have a feeling that there is much more to be discovered between its pages than I have managed yet with just one reading and I look forward to returning to these tales many times in the future. The assured, disturbing and captivating writing is a real joy.
About Kate North
Kate North’s first novel, Eva Shell, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2008 and her poetry collection, Bistro, in 2012. She writes and edits for a number of journals and publications. She has a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from Cardiff University and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She lives and teaches in Cardiff. You can find out more on Kate’s website or by finding her on Facebook or following her on Twitter @katetnorth.