Compromising the Truth by Bryn Fortey
Praise for Bryn Fortey’s Merry-Go-Round:
“Bryn Fortey is a writer who knows how to write to perfect effect “ — DJ Tyrer
“Bryn Fortey is one of the Good Guys” — Andrew Darlington
“These stories have variety but the best of them show how a range of ideas can be meshed together to form small gems” — SF Crowsnest
“It’s a perfect gem of a book” — The New Beatnik
In Compromising the Truth we have another eighteen stories plus two dozen poems of the weird and wonderful: a touch of science fiction, a tidbit of horror, a sprinkling of the strange.
From Adrian Cole’s introduction:
His stories reflect a clear understanding of the human condition and he imbues his characters with knowing insights. The tales vary from stark, unnerving urban horror, to blackly humorous, almost preposterous fantasy, although even these hugely entertaining yarns are seated in reality.
From the Eight Miles Higher website:
These are storyteller’s tales that both rip into your mind like fishhooks and soak into your consciousness like high-grade toxic bootleg hooch, then hang around like the earworm hook you can never get rid of, leaving aftertastes of joy. Bryn plays games that tie truth into conundrums, beguiling anecdotes, unreliable memory or alternate worlds of sly wonder.
From Sam Smith’s blog:
This blog is by way of a review of Bryn Fortey’s collection of stories and poems, ‘Compromising the Truth’. Bryn recently sent the book to Steph and I. We’re old friends.
Daresay I’m not alone in having become friends with Bryn through writing, and then of course through our shared love of jazz. I’ve still got a CD of Bryn snapping out a rhythm on a snare drum; and he is the only man I know to have mimed poetry to a live jazz band. No surprise then that the very first story in ‘Compromising the Truth’ concerns jazz, the blues to be accurate.
Bryn’s stories can start with the quotidian, with what you think you know, can draw you in; and before you know it you’re off-planet or navigating a dystopia. In between times we’re treated to Bryn’s sometimes soft, sometimes sideways whimsy, an occasional immersion in the bizarre.
Stories here told straight have endings often more unexpected than the standard double-twist. Bryn’s craft is in not so much raising expectations as hinting at them, and then taking us somewhere not just unexpected but off the map.
Mind you strange things do happen around Bryn. Or could be that’s just Newport. I was going to give him a lift one evening to a Bristol gig, but got lost and ended up in Chepstow, left Bryn waiting at his gate. Still not sure how that happened.
I keep wandering off into memories… don’t feel that I have yet given a good account of the quantity and quality of the stories here. There are stories concerning stag beetles, boxers, killer Blues, wormholes, mean-street parodies… Bryn even takes a fresh and personalised look at World War One. Was it Primo Levi said something about putting aside the numbers and to feel the effect of seeing just one person? Bryn does it so well.
The sign of a good writer: Bryn had me both laughing and in tears, and a couple of times grimacing as I compulsively read on… So many lines to quote, a couple of them unbearably sad; but this has to be my favourite: –
‘…If things started to look really bad he might consider relocating to Cardiff.
Well, only as a last resort…’
And then there’s the poems, some sci-fi, tributes to Blues men and other musicians, poems of love and bereavement: ‘…But these are days of darkness / Times beyond understanding // Sometimes love is not enough.’
Not just this book, I’m so proud to have had Bryn as a friend through all these thick and thin years.
From theEXAGGERATEDwebsite (Terry Grimwood):
Bryn Fortey is a story teller. He is one of those people who can spin a yarn, draw you in and keep you rapt as he unfolds whatever tale he has to tell. There’s a gleefulness to his writing, the feeling that here is an author who is sharing his flights of the imagination for the sheer joy of it. In both Compromising the Truth, and in its companion volume, Merry-Go-Round, Bryn Fortey unleashes a bumper-sized collection of varied, highly entertaining fiction. Some of what you’ll find it these pages is fun, dark but always enjoyable, some of what you encounter is deeply moving, particularly his supremely accessible poetry.
The opener, Ain’t That The Truth is a dark journey into the world of primitive blues music that results in a nightmare encounter with one of the less savoury characters who plied that musical trade. Space Jocks Yes! No! Yes! shows Fortey’s versatility in all its glory with a science fiction tale about the heroic astronauts who risk all to travel to the stars via a wormhole with little hope of returning. Time travel and its many paradoxes takes centre stage in The Road To Salamis, which boasts one of those abrupt, but satisfying, will-it-won’t-it endings Bryn Fortey loves so well. Oink veers off into weird fiction, its protagonist haunted by a bizarre half human/half animal who is more than willing to deal with his problems for him. Unfortunately, the creature’s unwanted help gets out of hand, with bloody results.
The fiction is interspersed with themed clusters of poetry. I loved the potted biographies of blues and jazz musicians, vivid portraits painted by a few, well-chosen words, brief, yet vivid, insights into the hearts of those often tortured souls. In one of the poem-clusters you will meet a Dark-haired Italian Girl, and it is an intensely moving experience.
My favourites? Mum’s The Word, set in the world of B-movies in which an Ed Wood wannabe struggles with a has-been ham, a pop star-turned-movie-star and people who simply cannot act, as he strives to film his masterwork. Blackly humorous and compelling. The other treasure among treasures is Locust Days, a longer tale set in the darker corners of private security, organised crime and the rotten underbelly of the boxing game. It is a great tale that kept me turning the pages and featured a rogue’s gallery of unsavoury characters. That is another of Bryn Fortey’s strengths, his characters; vivid and loveable hateable, but always memorable.
So, if you feel like losing yourself in a big book of storytelling joy, get your hands on a copy of Bryn Fortey’s Compromising The Truth, and take a ride on his Merry-Go-Round while you’re at it.
Compromising the Truth is now available from Amazon