REVIEW: “Running Down” by M. John Harrison

Review of M. John Harrison, “Running Down”, in Settling the World: Selected Stories 1970-2020, with a foreword by Jennifer Hodgson (Comma Press, 2020): 55-93 — Purchase here. Reviewed by Sara L. Uckelman. (Read the Review of the anthology.

One thing I have really enjoyed about Harrison’s stories is the way that he highlights experiences that seem at once very specific and yet at the same time also familiar. In “Running Down”, this manifests in the opening of the story when the narrator, Egerton, explains his relationship with Lyall, his erstwhile university roommate. The details of their story seem utterly unique to them; and yet, the experience of mutually dislike between close friends is one that has happened more than once in my own life (it makes me wonder, now, whatever happened to my childhood bestfriend whom I moved away from age 10. She and I loathed each other more often than not). The deft way that Harrison does this is what makes his stories feel so real, even when — once you get more than a few pages in — you cannot escape the utter unreality of the story being told (especially when an unexpected personage turns up!).

(Originally published in New Worlds Quarterly 8).

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