Click here to return to the main site.

Book Review

Book Cover

Six Silly Stories (Hardback)


Author: Geoffrey Maloney
Elastic Press
RRP: £3.00
Available 01 November 2008

Six Silly Stories is a collection of musings on the strange. Geoffrey Maloney takes a skewed look at the apparently normal to discover something different. In this his work is much like that of Garrison Keillor’s monologues about Lake Wobegon. Though not as lyrical in its approach, it does share the idea of finding oddness in ordinary circumstances. The book has a number of illustrations by Diana Maloney.

Fearless Flying Apartment People is a reflective, melancholy, piece about a man who sits in his thirteenth floor booth trying to stare out at the women - who bath naked on their balconies - with little success. Things seem to take a turn for the better when a new apartment block is built, only to be filled with sad-eyed women.

An odd story, which leaves the reader feeling a little dejected at the callousness of the office workers who take bets on who is going to jump, whilst at the same time doing little to stop it. His central character comes across as a little dejected and what should have been fantastical seems more deluded. Still, it is an interesting start to the book.

The Ant Catcher, and we are introduced to another character, this time trying to gain employment for which he is not suited. Once more the character is very languid in his outlook on life. He studies ants, after his first abortive attempt at getting the job, which allows Maloney to give us a couple of pages on ants which could have been dealt with by a single line. Eventually, armed with his new knowledge, he tries once more to get the job of ant catcher only to fall foul of a talking ant.

Another story with a nice idea which is let down by the lack of interest of the main character. This laid back approach works if you’re presenting the narrator as a whimsical and laid back dispassionate observer, rather than a participant in the events.

Miracle at 30,000 Feet is Maloney’s stab at the surreal end of the spectrum, with a story about a fire on a plane where events start with the absurd and progress to become even stranger. Taken at face value, of a story written just to be strange, I thought that this one worked quite well. Obviously, with a piece like this, you ignore logic and hold on for the ride. Personal preference will decide if it’s a ride you’ll enjoy. Personally I found it quite funny in its imagery.

The Woman Whose Perfume Smelled Too Much turns away from the bizarre to present a fairly straightforward ghost story. Not my favourite type of story and one which is difficult to fully realise in such a short format.

Tale of the Little Hair Mermaid finds our hero engaging in staring at the back of peoples heads - a pastime I sure all of us have indulged in at one time or another. However, in this short story, reality and delusion intertwine to create a sweet little vignette. It represents one of the most successful stories in the collection.

The Doctor and My Little Red Imp is a story about that inevitable prostrate examination which men of a certain age need. Maloney uses this rather unpleasant test to take the reader on an absurd ride - though I was still not sure whether the imp was supposed to have been real or a delusion.

If I had one criticism to make of the collection as a whole it would be the lack of surprise, which his characters seem to suffer when presented with anything out of the ordinary. I’m thinking that this may be a cultural trait as the author is Australian, a predominantly warm country. I know that when I am in warmer climes I’m aware that life really does happen at a slower pace and the ambience of life is that much more relaxed. That said, the book contains some interesting ideas, some of which work better than others, but which together really do make up six silly stories.


Charles Packer