The Corset & the Jellyfish by Nick Bantock

If you ever have the chance to visit Salt Spring Island, BC, one of your must-see spots should include the independent bookstore, Black Sheep Books. Aside from its spectacular collection of pulp fiction, local history, poetry, and various other genres, a room on the second floor is solely dedicated to the art and written works of island resident Nick Bantock. While the island itself with its natural wonder and pastoral landscape inspires an abundance of creativity, the Bantock room allows you to step into an abstract dream. 

A found manuscript, author unknown, made its way to the care of Bantock. One hundred stories all consisting of one hundred words and each with an accompanying iconographic creature – randomly designated by Bantock and not the original author/artist as no such direction or pairing hints were given – are intended for you to enjoy, explore, and perhaps use to piece together your own story.

“Each story survives well on its own, whether a mystery, romance, sci-fi or more.”

Each story survives well on its own, whether a mystery, romance, sci-fi or more. A taste of the macabre is served fresh in “Halloween” as experienced by a curmudgeonly senior. The accompanying art is fitting; you can will it to be so as the smile on the object’s face begins to look sinister. In “A Fool’s Kiss”, unrequited love finds resolution, at a cost. Another favourite is the lead up to murder in “Double-Crossed”. There is the sense that there could be more to each, but they appear perfect on the page, much like watching a festival of short films. 

The hooks arrive early on. In “A Cruel Contest”, we have no choice but to consume the rest of the tale with haste upon reading “Their sister, overhearing the boys’ misogynistic plan, warned her companion and together the girls plotted a response”. You’ll discover a bullied teen “cornered in an underpass by a gang of local thugs” eventually becomes the victor in “Shadows”. It’s hard to ignore the petroglyphs; they seem to be hinting at something, too.

For those who love to dream and contemplate possibilities, there is certainly a “drabble” in this book for you.

Mala Rai is a poet, drummer, psychology student, and technical writing hired gun on the West Coast. Her most recent poems have appeared in Eclectica Magazine, High Shelf Press, and Anti-Heroin Chic. You can follow her on Instagram @malaraipoetry

About the Author

Nick Bantock has authored thirty books, including the internationally bestselling Griffin and Sabine series. His works have been translated into thirteen languages. and over five million copies have been sold worldwide. Bantock has worked in a betting shop in the East End of London; trained as a psychotherapist; and designed a house that combined an Indonesian temple, an English cricket pavilion and a New Orleans bordello. He was also one of the twelve committee members responsible for selecting Canada’s postage stamps. Among the things Bantock can’t do: he can’t swim; has never ridden a horse; his spelling is dreadful; and his singing voice is flat as a pancake.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Tachyon Publications (Nov. 7 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 216 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1616964073
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1616964078