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22 February 2014

Khalid Patel
Severest Inks
Publication Date
24 August 2013
short story

A short story which engages your literary brain, a dark satire on corporate America (though I think it could be certainly applied to any city in the 'Western' world).

The author takes a well known fairy tale and turns it on its head. Red, a young girl, clutching her books, walks home from the library and has to get to her grandmother's house quickly. She has to cross the notorious Forest (geddit?)  Heights district of the city with winos, drug pushers and prostitutes on every street corner. She has to move fast to outrun her father's nemesis, The Wolf. 

I liked the surprising ending of the story, but the most beautiful part for me was the wonderful use of language in this story. Rich words and great prose descriptions of this sordid city and its residents. Read every single word and every single sentence and let it sink in. This only works for a short story, and it works beautifully here. Why say "There where homeless alcoholics in the door way" when you can say (quote): "The discarded of the city sat suckling their gloom through a bottle, a reprieve from misery." 

I'm not a teacher, but I think this story would be great for English students to read and analyse. It would also be a great addition in a compilation book of short stories. 

Here are some more quotes from the story:

"The homeless were pleading the junkies for spare change for desperately needed sustenance. The junkies were pleading the homeless spare change for desperately needed fresh highs. The homeless junkies were pleading the ethereal figures dwelling their broken psyches for desperately needed hope."

"Her lips had become parchment, dry and crackling like desert twigs. Her heart had become calcified fire, burring in scorched beats against her chest. She drank a deep swathe of breath, feeling the airs slither down the rusted vulcano that had become her throat, feeling the almost liquid air run down and bathe her thirsty gullet."

"I agree, ma'am. Hey… And they like to blame video games. When we all know rap music's really to blame…"

"They dyin' so ugly the coroner won't know how to fill the forms out."

(ok, on a personal note, anything which mentions the Coroner - I'm a Coroner's Officer - deserves my mention!)

About the author:

(from Amazon)

Khalid Patel is the British writer of cult, underground literature. His works are known for their subversive, unconventional qualities. Challenging narratives, unusual dialogue& beautifully offbeat prose are a staple of his writings. His words, also frequently laced with scalding social commentary & sneaky dark humour, wrenches readers out of their comfort zone for an unforgettable, jolting experience.

An English Literature graduate & culture junkie, Khalid breathes movies (particularly South Korean cinema), comic-books & videogames…passions which frequently seep into his works. He also copiously digs New York, pasta and wearing black shirts.

Khalid Patel advocates activism & the questioning of the status quo. He has supported greater rights for Burma (the birth country of his mother) long before the mass media began highlighting the brutalities & human right atrocities perpetrated by its military junta government. He is also a fierce critic of far-right, fascist outfits such as the English Defence League (EDL); he has attended anti-racism & anti-hate protests where he has engaged in running street battles with Neo-Nazis.

Khalid's stories are often laced with searing socio-political asides, quietly making his readers mull deeper issues whilst they're being entertained. With his writings, Khalid also seeks to disintegrate media-reinforced stereotypes of Muslims & people of brown colour. He is keen to raise the literacy rates of British South Asians, especially males, & hopes his stories more shall catch an interest in literature.

"This kid breaks some rules & he breaks them across people's faces… Khalid Patel represents a new age in fiction. He examines traditional fiction and turns it on its head with technology & innovation." Eryk Pruitt, author of Dirtbag.