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Good Antifreeze - The First Seven Stories

by Vadius Wilburn

Rating: ***

Good Antifreeze is a collection of short stories exposing and revealing inner thoughts, actions and angst in seven different narratives and settings.

The first story provides an intense opener and the comment about trying to have a character epiphany while drifting to sleep was noddingly relatable. Devastatingly Self-conscious was one of the stronger stories and ‘Tim’ is mentioned who features in some of the other tales. The dialogue between the two main characters is fast-paced, desperate and poignant. Personally, the third story did not distinguish or develop enough but the fourth; Traumatize your Son, was blistering and reminded me heavily of Edward St. Aubyn’s writing in Never Mind, the first of the Patrick Melrose novels. It was unnerving, uncomfortable and quite vivid. The fifth story was equally as unflinching in its brutal depiction of teenage agonies, addiction and hopelessness and I think most readers could connect even objectively with the issues and mental anguish portrayed. In the sixth Wilburn plays around with punctuation and repeats metaphor and semantics enhancing the conscious immediacy of the narrative. The writing is quite hyperbolic which does get a little exhausting but also throws up some achingly good sentences. Sanctuary Golf Course began as painfully amusing and then ended with a poignant, futile sadness. It had a very visual quality provided by the apocalyptic backdrop and the heightened descriptive writing. I thought each of the four characters were ruthlessly observed; I think we’ve all meet people that are similar. Although some of the reactions and sentiments voiced in this collection are uncompromisingly extreme, each of the stories provided a level of grounding to the everyday which made them accessible. However, it’s clever that the collection is kept deliberately short, the ideas expressed are powerfully acute and Wilburn’s writing can be profoundly excessive. It is this bombastic language that provides both the strengths and weaknesses of the compilation.

Overall, I thought Good Antifreeze was an absorbing and stimulating read with moments of pure brilliant clarity among some disturbing and provocative concepts. Recommended. Buy from:

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