By Miguel-Anxo Murado
Small Stations Press – £7.99

In the early nineties, I undertook a number of humanitarian aid trips to the Balkans, so I can relate to a number of the places mentioned throughout Soundcheck – such as Karlovac, Sisak and Zadar. And like the Galician, journalist, author, Miguel-Anxo Murado, I too remember the sight(s) and the sound(s) of an incredulously emaciated society – hopelessly ravaged by the nigh impossible xenophobic vision of Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic.

And just as each of these thirteen short-stories underlie a seething humanity that’s impossible to argue with, they are also written in such a way as to suggest that mankind continues to get it horribly wrong.

”As if in accusation” (from ‘Shoes’), there is indeed a tempestuously, translucent thin line between one man’s right and another man’s wrong; which, so far as pain and suffering goes, really is neither here nor there. It just is: ”They were mainly English, French, and Italian, seventeen-year-olds who had surfaced out of the violence of Europe, from the wretched slums of Paris and London, ambitious for money, brutality or some outrageous dream. A few hours of combat had been enough to drain most of them, turning them into creatures sickened by that curious mixture of fear and self-sufficiency from which armies are fashioned” (‘A Day at the Zoo’).

Just as ”the end of the world takes places every day” – whether by way of nineteen-nineties Serb nationalism (high on moronic expansionism) or the current day Islamic State (high on equally moronic stupidity), Murado captures all the pointless, futility of war amid these 117 pages.

And then some.

Perhaps part of the reason being: it’s the unspoken which shouts the loudest.

There again: ”Each man has his own religion because each man has his own sins and his own penances (‘Scrap’).

David Marx


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