The Glue Ponys by Chris Wilson is one of the most unapologetic, skilled pieces of writing I’ve read in a long time. It’s a startling first short story collection containing thirty tales about ‘the lost and wandering of America’, running through settings such as prison yards, truck stops, hospital wards and deserted houses. The cast includes junkies, hookers, hustlers, anorexic porn stars, and runaways, amongst others, and as quoted from the blurb, ‘heroin, always heroin.’
Chris Wilson spent many years living in the streets and prisons of USA, and these stories speak with an air of truth and authenticity. He was extradited to the UK in 1998 and has been drug and crime free since 2001. Despite the tragic scenarios which are described in many of these stories, including a young girl on a porn set, or a heroin addict looking for nothing more than her next hit, the prose is straight to the point and defiant. The collection carries a sense of ‘it is what it is’; we’re not being asked to make a judgement on these characters for their actions which might usually be seen as immoral, because their lives are just the way they are. Perhaps some of the scenarios relate to things Chris Wilson has witnessed himself, but there’s certainly no sense of sharing for sympathy, it feels as though the author just wanted to capture a way of life.
The collection is well ordered, bound together with various themes, with a good sense of pace leading from one story to another, and additional interlinking of stories through first and last sentences, that doesn’t feel forced. There are awesome descriptions buried in blunt language, such as:
’Van would park up and watch while Margaret did her lipstick in the rear-view mirror, and then she’d tie her shirttails in a bow on top of her stomach, spray on some perfume, light a Salem and step out of the door. When Margaret walked she swayed like a beautiful yacht on the gentle swells of some god given oceans.’
The stories are so short it’s almost brave considering the subject matter they handle. The stories portray a single passing moment in the characters lives, and not even a ‘big’ moment; every single story has the feeling that life goes on, that it was just another day.
This collection is one not to be missed. Chris has a unique voice and important stories to tell. Sharp wit, snappy stories and punchy style is what make The Glue Ponys an unforgettable new read.
Any Cop?: Authentic, beautiful and straight to the point. Unforgettable stories.