Book Review: Love Your Enemies, by Nicola Barker






When she awoke she felt battered and exhausted. When she looked in the mirror her old face looked back at her. Nothing had changed. She felt utterly helpless. Her mind rambled and a thousand different images moved through the space behind her eyes. Layla’s Nose Job


Grab this book, a coffee and a private cosy corner and allow Nicola Barker to take you on an increasingly dark joy ride, delving into every increasingly odd enemy of the psyche you could ever possibly conceive. From metaphorical to oddly literal enemies, and the way each of her characters does (or doesn’t in some cases) come to love them.


I loved this collection. Each story delivered a healthy dose or logic, humour and oddity. Some stories followed an off-kilter version of what one could imagine as very real scenarios, others took the characters to new otherworldly creations - but each was a little thrilling, a tiny bit disturbing and heavily addictive to read.


Barker covers the collection's title impeccably - from penis envy to helpful tapeworms, from an apprentices gruesome education to dog grooming wars - she successfully takes you through a world that simultaneously does and doesn’t exist, with characters you can feel.


I read this book in doses over the course of a weekend. On the bus, stopping for coffee (probably more frequently than I normally would just so I could indulge in the next character and discover their ‘enemy’) - it was no hardship to want to swallow this book whole, politely dab my mouth with my napkin before heading back to the bookshop for dessert in the form of another of her novels.


Dark of humour, lover of a good short story collection? I would highly recommend this for you.


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Copyright © 2020 Elaine Mead | Coffee&Books

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