Review of Sheldon Lee Compton's WHERE ALLIGATORS SLEEP

Where Alligators Sleep
Sheldon Lee Compton. Foxhead Books, $18 paperback (160p) ISBN: 978-1-940876-08-5

Where Alligators Sleep is a collection of flash fiction, containing stories usually two or three pages in length. Sheldon Lee Compton demonstrates a flair for capturing the grotesque in the everyday. From the opening tale 'Ouroboros' onwards, the reader is presented with a range of situations that simmer with violence and explore how extreme consequences grow out of an inability to speak up or listen. At the heart of the collection is a parade of dysfunctional families, particularly fathers and sons who are not on speaking terms. Arguably, Compton catches the theme best in the title story, a subtle tale about a family ignoring relatives they should perhaps be doing a better job caring for. The collection builds into a series of variations on the themes that are established. If the collection has a weakness, it is perhaps too bound to notions of literary respectability regarding length. The book contains over 60 stories, which feels like a defensive compensation for the genre chosen rather than value for money. As a result, some of the effect of the flash is diminished. In general, the writing is high quality, engaging and vivid. Compton is obviously an extremely talented writer who deserves attention, bending familiar themes to produce work that feels fresh. (August 2014)

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Reviewer bio: Simon Travers published his first collection of poems, entitled 'Anatomy', in November 2013. It is available from