Sabotage Reviews is a website established in 2017 ‘to provide dynamic commentary and reviews of small-scale and ephemeral literature that might not otherwise receive critical and public attention’.
Reviewing Live Show on the 31st of August, Joshua Lambert says: ‘it’s the characters rather than any particular snatches of writing that stick in the mind. I have a few minor niggles, perhaps – I didn’t buy the children, for instance – but by and large, Grut’s talent for character is phenomenal.
Children aside, not a single character appears in these pages without provenance, motivation, desires, flaws, and obsessions. This may sound like a given, but it really isn’t; short story writers could learn a lot from Grut.
‘The story which left the biggest impression was undoubtedly the last, ‘Into the Valley‘, a beautiful story about a woman staying by her in-law’s bedside in her last few days before death. What’s most striking about it is the sheer messiness of it all. There’s no romance, no literary acceptance, no thematic resonance in death: it is just awful. The mother-in-law suffers through delusions and night terrors, afraid of death and unwilling to face it head-on, prompting an equally raw reaction from the main character:
“At some ridiculous level I find myself disapproving of her tenacity, as if it’s a kind of greed, a lack of acceptance. I don’t think I’d struggle this hard, not even at the age I am now. Perhaps I don’t love life enough. Perhaps I’ll feel differently when I get to eighty.”
Grut’s tenderness and understanding, present throughout, shines like a halogen bulb here.