Monopolies of Loss by Adam Mars-Jones


I have read bits and pieces of Adam Mars-Jones, including his excellent novel from the 90s, The Waters of Thirst. This collection of short stories predates that (1992) – I stumbled across it on Kenny’s Bookshop’s secondhand section and had to have it.

Firstly, it’s a collection of stories about AIDS, and boy, if that wasn’t a weird book to be reading at the start of quarantine in this pandemic. I felt like I was transported back in time, back to another disease that people didn’t understand, that people used as a weapon against others for the own personal gain, or bigotry.

Adam Mars-Jones, to be honest, writes lines so beautifully that I could read him write about paint dry and he presents nine stories (eight about AIDS, although some don’t even, purposely, mention the word, and the first, Slim, is a character’s personal nickname for the disease). Prescient, scary, this book is fully of relationships ending, of people trying to move on, of a real world that is distant and remote from their lives. It is a book, to put it bluntly, that is spookily about now.


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