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YA MUM and Other Stories from the Backstreets of Britain


Loved it! 😍

YA MUM is an extraordinary debut, and Ben Tallon is a creative artist who has produced a narrative menagerie for the 21st century.

This genre-bending collection is a thoughtfully crafted storytelling experiment that invites readers into the mind of someone with whom you would want to share a night of bottomless pints. 

While reading, I found myself envious of the multiple ways Ben Tallon used language. His writing was conversational, and his observations were provocative much in the same way Joni Mitchells Big Yellow Taxi dealt with corporate greed's slaughter of natural resources. He wrote from the heart about the minutiae of life while showing how words transform seemingly mundane or otherwise grimy objects into treasures worthy of appreciation. There was all-seeing omniscience to his narrative essays, short stories, and poems. With an assailing use of alliteration, the writings also struck a lyrical cord.  I was trepidatious at first, having read the synopsis. Worried that this collection would be yet another barrage of gross observations freckled with propaganda and conspiracy theory, but that is not the case at all, so please do not shy away from these pages if you are worried about being bombarded with a lewd lament of lies. Tallon is a genuine and vulnerable narrator. 

His voice is a beer-stank whisper of fresh air. Each opening line is the bait dangling from an appetizing hook that reels readers in with ease. One of my faves was Drop Down Dead. This flash piece will assuredly slam a truth about life, death, and guilt down your throat in its simple subtlety. My spouse and I are still discussing the implications of the story today. He hints at norms in brief conversations by dosing readers with suggestions, and he urges the reader not to treat short stories as disposable. Tallon has curated a tiny pocket of well-seasoned stories that should marinate until their subtext permeates you as a permanent reminder that we are here to celebrate a world built from a collection of broken yet beautiful things.

My only qualm was the trajectory of the stories felt off balance. I was pumped with adrenaline at first before feeling as though I was coming down. If that was the intention, then he nailed it, but I would have preferred getting slapped in the face, then creep but up, as oppressed to being given all the goods right upfront. The found-object pieces would have been better served as supposed junk scattered throughout the collection, just as they litter various areas of town.

At least, that's what I got from it all, anyway. Do yourself a favor and get this, share this, and then revisit it when you want to take a walk down the guts of Britain's shadowy streets with a friend you never knew you wished you had.

Reviewed by

I believe writers are the last bastions of humanity & have a responsibility to craft thoughtful narratives. For 20 years, my world has revolved around literature: selling, teaching, and writing. I am driven by books that inspire my creative endeavors. Reviews posted will be succinct and thoughtful.


About the author

Ben Tallon digs deep into the darkest pits of our minds and with searing wit and uncompromising prose, writes what should be left inside. Human vulnerability, inescapable realities and the terrifying everyday are stars in his warped show. view profile

Published on October 22, 2020

6000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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