Xenos Beach

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Short Stories Challenge – Xenos Beach by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Published June 12, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s Xenos Beach all about?:

The third story in Graham Joyce’s collection Tales For A Dark Evening is about a man who is struggling to cope with a failed relationship and decides a sojourn on a remote Greek island may be just the ticket. What he doesn’t expect is who exactly he is going to meet…

What did I think?:

Xenos Beach is a fairly spooky little story with excellent pace that I didn’t really appreciate until I read it a second time. Our main character who remains nameless is trying to recover from the heartache of a break-up with a woman called Alison. His friend Peter recommended that he should try travelling the world for a while, sleeping with a few different women along the way as his “cure,” then our protagonist tells us that he has discovered that Alison is now in a relationship with Pete – the same “friend” Peter who was advising him on how to mend his broken heart? I think so! He decides to take his advice anyway and even has a few dalliances with women of various nationalities along the way until he realises that he needs some time to think alone. The prospect of an ancient Greek island recommended by a rather old and tattered guide book seems perfect and he decides to pay the island a visit.

From the moment that our narrator arrives there, the reader gets a sense that something isn’t quite right – there are a variety of tents which look like they have been there for a while, remain unoccupied with no sign of the inhabitants. Then there is the strange Greek orthodox priest that he runs into, the only other person he has seen on the island, who warns him more than once about the danger of the currents for anyone wishing to swim and that he should not attempt it. The following day life suddenly appears on the island in the form of a family who appear to be cooking what looks to be a large slab of offal on a marble slab. We are also told that the temple door of the church has been destroyed and there is no sign of the priest apart from his clothes, lying in disarray all over the floor. Hmmm. Our narrator develops quite a strong attraction to one of the females in the family who makes it clear that she appreciates his attentions and desperately tries to induce him to come swimming with her…

I don’t want to say anything further and spoil the story for anyone who hasn’t read it yet and I can still feel the after-effects of the second reading lingering in my mind. Graham Joyce is a fantastic writer that really knows how to build up the action while still letting the reader make up their own mind about what was going on. I certainly invented a couple of scenarios in my mind to explain the strange goings-on in Xenos Beach which is definitely the sign of a strong, well executed story.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY:  Chocolate Hearts From The New World by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories


Challenge: Short Stories April to June

Published April 1, 2014 by bibliobeth


The year is going really quickly so far and these are the short stories that will keep me entertained until the end of June!

Week beginning 7th April

Jamila by Randy Taguchi from the collection Fujisan

Week beginning 14th April

The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach, 1979 by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove

Week beginning 21st April

A Case of Identity by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 28th April

Bees by Sarah Hall from the collection The Beautiful Indifference

Week beginning 5th May

Four Rajeshes by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner: Love Stories

Week beginning 12th May

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

Week beginning 19th May

She Was Looking For This Coat by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Week beginning 26th May

Ganymede by Daphne du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 2nd June

Xenos Beach by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 9th June

Chocolate Hearts From The New World by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 16th June

Snatched by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 23rd June

Malvern Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

Week beginning 30th June

Ghosts With Teeth by Peter Crowther from the collection A Book of Horrors