Review: Gold Fury by Kieren Westwood (2020)

Blurb

Gold Fury is a short novella of flash fiction, tracing twenty moments in the journey of a stolen car as it moves through the criminal landscape of a rural town.

It was shortlisted for the Bath novella-in-flash award 2020.

“They guy told me to run and not look back, and he had a gun.”

“Yes, that’s all I know. I already told you what he looked like.”

“Yes, that’s my car, a gold Plymouth Fury 1970.”

“Why would you be looking through my letters? It’s my personal property. It had nothing to do with what happened.”

“I wasn’t trying to blackmail anyone.”

NO ONE RUNS FOREVER.

Review

I am a big admirer of flash fiction, and anyone who can write it well. It is such a skill. I recently reviewed Laura Besley’s micro fiction collection, 100neHundred, which put me in the mood to explore more of this form, so I was thrilled to be offered a copy of Kieren Westwood’s novella-in-flash in exchange for an honest review.

Gold Fury is a short but thoroughly immersive read. The flashes work brilliantly to slowly build up a picture of the various strands of the story, and there is a strongly visual sense created by the vignette-like sections. It reminded me very strongly of series like Fargo and True Detective, in which the careful set-up and framing of each striking shot is just as important as what is actually happening on screen. The crime anthology feel works really well, and although the plot is murky and elusive at first, this only serves to add to the tension and the focus on the intensity of the language.

Good flash fiction is an almost poetic thing, a microscopic examination of the power of words, used sparingly and to maximum effect. Westwood excels at eking out the full meaning of each sentence, creating an intense experience, so that even characters we only spend a page or two with have an impact. Diane in her jewellery store, looking out at the “gold junkmobile” on the car transporter; Harley calling half-heartedly after his dog then settling down to watch the news and trying to convince himself he’s just a “tired old man” imagining things – all these small moments in amongst the bigger, more dramatic events of cop chases and police station raids and car crashes are what elevates Gold Fury, what makes it seem real and human and honest as well as being a fast-paced crime drama.

I am completely unsurprised that Gold Fury was short-listed for the Bath Novella-in-Flash Award last year – it is compelling and immersive, wry and clever, and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who wants to try something a bit different. If you’re a fan of the shows I mentioned, I think you’d really enjoy this, as would anyone wanting to explore the bright, brilliant world of flash fiction.

Gold Fury by Kieren Westwood is out now and is available to purchase here.

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