Above the Fat
Short stories by Thomas Chadwick
Includes stories shortlisted for the 2017 White Review Prize and the 2019 Galley Beggar Prize
The Republic of Consciousness Prize “Book of the Month” Selection for April 2019
At the top of a high-rise tower, buffeted by a gale, a desperate man clings onto a ledge and feels the passing minutes drag out into eternity. In a city swallowed by rising floodwaters, two friends embark on a leisurely stroll while the surging waves lick at their heels. A struggling entrepreneur stakes his future years on a plantation of trees that won’t reach maturity for a decade; a browbeaten bachelor stews over a lifetime’s disappointments in the moments it takes him to knot a tie; and when an arrogant chef devotes precisely two minutes to frying the perfect egg, he realises, as the seconds tick down, that dementia has robbed his father of half a century’s worth of memories.
Step inside the twilit realm of Thomas Chadwick: a place where the flow of time stalls and swells, halts and hastens, in utterly unpredictable ways. Urgent demands collide with outbreaks of eerie calm, stretches of idleness dovetail with sudden insistence on action, and an inertia without end can bloom from the limbo between the delayed departure of a boat and the arrival of cataclysmic climate change. Combining gentle lyricism with absurdity and biting humour, and finding poignancy in slippages between past, present, and foreboding future, Chadwick’s stories conjure up rare magic and cast a disorienting spell. Placid evenings distend into weeks of trouble before sundown, months of anxiety are distilled into a single heartbeat, and, from dawn to dusk, the duration of an entire day is neatly contained between the covers of a book.
Thomas Chadwick grew up in Wiltshire and now splits his time between London and Ghent. His stories have been shortlisted for the White Review Prize and the Galley Beggar Prize, as well as the Ambit Prize and the Bridport Prize. He is an editor of Hotel magazine.
Read stories from Above the Fat:
Read the opening section of Red Sky at Night, excerpted at 3:AM Magazine.
Read Politics, a brand new story by Thomas Chadwick published exclusively online at Splice.
Read a two-part interview with Thomas Chadwick, about his inspirations and creative processes.
Praise for Thomas Chadwick
Understated and devastating, with sophisticated — and quietly heart-breaking — characterisation, and an elegant, perfectly balanced rhythm and pace.Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize Judges’ Citation
Th[e] thwarting of ambition, and lowering of standards, is the recurring theme of Above the Fat, which identifies a millennial sense of lost opportunity and diminished expectation, handling it with subtlety and humour. … Throughout, Chadwick is insightful, his writing spare and bleakly comic. In this short debut collection, he stakes out his literary territory, identifying a topic and approaching it from multiple angles. There’s a clear need for writing which can investigate the fault lines which have emerged in society after the economic crash, and subsequent austerity. Chadwick, with his sharp wit, is well placed to address this.Thom Cuell, 3:AM Magazine
Evocative and lingering. The writing throughout has a haunting undercurrent. … In both the ordinary and the more surreal, simple actions lead to disturbance. Much is contained and elicited within each sentence; years of experience captured within fleeting reactions. This entirely enjoyable collection offers depth and emotive complexity. It is an original and satisfying read.Jackie Law, Never Imitate
Gently surreal… funny… an excellent collection.Robert Pisani, The Bobsphere
I wept (actually, literally wept) reading Above the Fat.Aki Schilz, Director of The Literary Consultancy
A strong and distinctive collection.Paul Fulcher