The Oversoul

All posts tagged The Oversoul

Short Stories Challenge – The Oversoul by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Published April 11, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s The Oversoul all about?:

The Oversoul is about an eighteen year old boy called Frank who spends most of his time smoking with his friend at the quarry pond until his friend leaves to make a new life in London. Frank becomes infatuated with a young mother he sees with her children at the pond and slowly starts to discover who he really is.

What did I think?:

After the beauty of Graham Joyce’s award winning story, Leningrad Nights in this collection, every story following it has been somewhat of a disappointment to me, this one unfortunately more than the others. Our narrator is eighteen year old Frank who hasn’t really figured out what he wants to do with his life yet. He spends most of his days down at the quarry smoking with his best friend Shadrack. The story begins promisingly enough when Frank tells us about some strange blue-green algae (possibly hazardous to your health) that lives in the quarry water and that one day he felt something rise up inside him that had come directly from the water. Intriguing enough, you might think. Frank also has quite an interesting relationship with his parents, especially his father who constantly refers to him in the third person, even when he is in the same room – “Where’s he going? Why hasn’t he got a job yet?.”

Things take a drastic turn however when Shadrack informs Frank that he’s tired of his mundane existence and is moving to London to be in a rock band, to find his superhuman or as he refers to it, his “oversoul.” Frank is disappointed but still continues to go down to the quarry each day where his head is turned by a beautiful young mother who takes her two children to the quarry to play. At first he just watches her with the aid of some cheap binoculars although he feels slightly seedy about doing this. When he musters enough courage to talk to her, he warns her about the dangers of the blue-green algae but is disappointed by the conversation they have, feeling a bit like a social failure. Over time and a lot of observation, Frank finally manages to find the “oversoul” within himself when he rescues one of the children from a potentially dangerous situation and the reader begins to see a bit of optimism for his future.

I’m finding it quite difficult to express how I feel about this story. I didn’t feel the need to read it a second time as I believe I understood what the author was trying to say but it just left me feeling fairly indifferent. It has a lot of potential for sure with the mysterious blue-green algae, the entity that arises in Frank and the relationship he has with his parents but I’m not sure that enough was made of these strands to form the story that it could have been, if that makes any sense. I do enjoy Graham Joyce’s style of writing and I always appreciate a little darkness in the narrative but I’m afraid this story just didn’t do it for me.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably not.

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: The Apple by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: Crimson Petal Stories

Short Stories Challenge 2015 – January to March

Published January 9, 2015 by bibliobeth

images (2)

Another year over, and a new year of short stories begins! Here’s what I’m going to be reading each week until the end of March.

Week beginning 5th January

Magpies by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Week beginning 12th January

A Married Man’s Story by Katherine Mansfield from the collection The Story, Love, Loss & The Lives of Women 100 Great Short Stories chosen by Victoria Hislop

Week beginning 19th January

The Barn At The End Of Our Term by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires In The Lemon Grove

Week beginning 26th January

The Five Orange Pips by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 1st February

She Murdered Mortal He by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

Week beginning 8th February

Demons by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner

Week beginning 15th February

The Ceiling by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky

Week beginning 22nd February

Keeping Watch Over The Sheep by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Week beginning 1st March

The Archduchess by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 8th March

The Oversoul by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 15th March

The Apple by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 22nd March

Martin Misunderstood by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 29th March

Cellists by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories Of Music and Nightfall