Sustained throughout by Michael Hill’s boisterous sense of humour, this is a wide-ranging book whose careful prose embodies ideas about basic reality alongside shrewd and often comic insights into human nature. Some of the stories are familiar in form. But others comprise what Hill describes as ‘indeterminate literary entities’ that probe beneath the surface of ordinary life in pursuit of what he describes as the ‘mystery of everything’, about which no information exists inside or out of the world’s physics laboratories.
Stories in this collection range from the momentous efforts by a company chairman to maintain pride and position which badly backfire in the final paragraph of ‘Cause for Celebration’. A bystander’s observations of a struggling toddler inspire gloomy yet highly credible predictions concerning the child’s future life. In ‘Spring Festival’ the portrayal of wild landscape is as close to poetry as prose can get.
This is a collection of tales in which subject matter, mood, length and style vary greatly. There is, however, one distinctive subject raised sparingly but persistently throughout the diverse and always riveting stories: the recurrent question and enigma of ‘time’.