There’s a wild fearless heart beating in WILD FEARLESS CHESTS, Mandy Beaumont’s short story collection, a wild fearless prose heaving hot, molten truth down every page.
The longest story in the collection, Bright Light and All Brilliance is about child abuse and incest, the fictionalised story of Beaumont’s Aunty Marg who died too young and was misplaced all her life. The collection is dedicated to her, and all the women misplaced.
WILD FEARLESS CHESTS central theme, its spine, is about lives, particularly women, misplaced, displaced, dismissed, disrespected and misunderstood.
In the story, All the Edges of the Alphabet, misdiagnosis of mental illness misplaces its protagonist, a writer, to detention, hospitalisation and the horrors of misguided rehabilitation, until finally, “the doctor calls for her in the autumn of her thirty-fourth year, tells her maybe they got it all wrong… tells the world that her madness never was, that by standing so close to her silence others faced their own reflections, their magnified shadows in the depths, and it frightened them, let them label her mad.”
An innominate disgrace stalks the pages of WILD FEARLESS CHESTS, the aged weight of salt in heavy tears, the idea of anguish as a verb. The stories and the spaces between them bristle and boom and blaze, an arsenal of tales bearing explosive titles like Drowning in Thick Air, She Heard The Whole Universe in Her Throat, and He Tells Her of the Beautiful Lines in Her Skin That Rip Apart His Groin.
You can feel the universe expanding and exhaling with Beaumont’s beautifully calibrated prose whether its about about a wife’s berating leading to a wife’s beating, not so tender bar tenders, or women veiled in male monstrous and fervent wanting.
Redolent of Bukowski, reminiscent of early Andrew McGahan, a tincture of Kafka and Hemingway, WILD FEARLESS CHESTS is a treasure chest of twenty-two unrelenting and unforgettable stories, shocking and shimmering on first read, rewarding in the re-reading.
WILD FEARLESS CHESTS by Mandy Beaumont is published by Hachette.