When you think of some of the greatest writers of the past 100 years, it’s fair to say that they often have a name which befits their brilliance. Ernest Hemingway. Cormac McCarthy. Stephen King. Evie Wyld. Wells Tower. Vladimir Nabokov. The list could go on and on. Looking at the list, is it easy to see a name such as Callan Wink sitting among those much lauded writers? It’s certainly unique and interesting enough, but does it have enough power to make the grade? There will probably be at least two schools of thought on the matter.
Luckily for Mr Wink, though, there is likely to be a little less debate about the thing that really matters. His writing ability. Because that, my good friends, is clear to see on each and every page of his astonishing debut collection of short stories. With tales ranging from a dog-stealing construction worker, to a war reenactor mulling over his affair with an Indian squaw, via a man who escapes his relationship breakup to work on a hunting range for exotic animals, and a tragic tryst between a young man and his older mistress, here are short stories of the very highest order. Stories that do everything a short story should. Most impressive of all is way in which Mr Wink often hints at the horror the heartbeats his stories, avoiding painting them out on the page so that our imaginations make them all the more powerful.
The standout story is probably Off the Tracks. Starting on the day before an adolescent Terry begins a jail sentence for a brutal crime, the narrative sweeps through many years and investigates how this incident effects a whole range of characters. It is never judgemental, leading, or moralistic, but instead allows the reader to think about its implications whilst also swimming in the delights of its dialogue and prose. And this is just one of many incredible stories. In fact, each one resonates and leaves you with a lot to consider. There is not one story which should’ve been taken out.
Any Cop?: While he might have a name reminiscent of a famous Scottish haddock soup, there is absolutely nothing fishy about his debut. He’s a humorous as he is haunting. As able to conjure a stunning landscape as he is to investigate today’s society. He’s as exciting as any writer in the last decade.