Book - Musings & Mischief

Musings & Mischief

Available on 3rd March, the second poetry collection from the Grumbling Gargoyle is read by Susan Omand...

You all know I’m not averse to a bit of verse, and I really enjoyed the previous grumblings of the Grumbling Gargoyle (aka Lynn Gerrard) in her debut collection Darkness and Decadence, so I was really pleased when her new collection of Musings & Mischief made it onto my desk.

Again this is a collection of Lynn’s poetry and is as imagery filled and melancholy as ever, although never absolutely sad, just reflective. Take these lines from the very first poem in the book

the warmth of cobbled memories linger on

To tell their tale of lolly sticks and laughter


Doesn’t that just reek of childhood to you? Wonderful! That’s something I really like about Lynn’s poetry, the acute observation of life, love and death therein. There’s also a good spark of dark humour in this collection as she writes of mundane reality, of wheelie bins and discarded road maps, as much as the esoteric notions of death and desertion.

The thing I like most though is the visual nature of each descriptive phrase as her use of simile and metaphor are sublimely off the wall and yet work so well.

Dark skies hung as heavy

As a fat dog's sweaty belly


for example, or

She walks the walk

Of the uninspired.


You really can see and understand what she means in a way that someone else could not describe in 100 words.

Talking of more words, as an additional treat this time out there are also three flash fiction style pieces at the end of the book. The New Place is beautifully written and will have you second guessing til the end. Conversely the shocking viewpoint of the five year old child in Lilly will stay with you for a long time. But it is the last story, A Cold Affair, that leaves you shuddering more at what was not said rather than what was. A masterstroke of stomach turning psychology. These stories bode well for the rumoured novel that Lynn is working on, if she can keep up that level of visual and visceral connection with her characters, it will be a good one.

As with the last collection though, there are a couple of poems I wouldn’t have included as I feel their brightness breaks the dark mood of the cover-to-cover read through that I did. I do however understand why Lynn may have wanted to do that if she felt the book was “a heavy read” and they are good stand alone pieces that, if you just dip in and out of the collection, will work well but I wish she had the confidence to let the reader just wallow in the melancholy of her work. Another minor quibble, and again this may just be me and it will not affect the Kindle version, but it sometimes felt like the page layout and where the page breaks fell in the poems for the paperback version was not considered. Well chosen, these breaks work in a similar way to line and verse ends in poetry to add to the drama of the overall reading experience.

Overall though, Lynn has managed the oft dreaded “difficult second album” of her poetry collection very well indeed and I highly recommend you seek out her work as this proves she has much more to give.

Image - Lynn Gerard