Future historians researching cultural responses to Brexit will find a rich seam in the work of Christopher Spencer, better known as Cold War Steve, whose satirical photomontages depict a world of flat-roof pubs, sink estates, blighted postindustrial landscapes, burnt-out caravans, holiday camp buffets and working men’s clubs, all populated by world leaders and D-list celebrities. The prose equivalents of these images are the satirical and bilious parables making up Tim Etchells’s new collection of short stories.
The earliest of these dates back to 1995, when it was published by Tony White’s Piece of Paper Press, a DIY imprint that produces tiny books made from a single sheet of A4 paper, cut, folded and photocopied. The author, attracted by the formal constraints and concision of the format, came up with ‘About Lisa’, a sour little fable which begins:
The boss at DAVE’S TOPLESS CHIP SHOP is called Harry Stannington. The shop is just a franchise and the real Dave is more of a marketing proposition than a proper person. Harry Stannington is a pathetic lying police informant who’s going to get his head kicked in and his tongue cut out, at least if you believe the graffiti which someone has sprayed up outside the shop.
More short pieces in this vein followed, eventually appearing in his 1999 collection Endland Stories, or Bad Lives. Fifteen of these reappear in Endland; others here have appeared in various collections but have not yet been gathered together, and six of them are previously unpublished. All thirty-nine stories