The short story as a form has been enjoying a considerable renaissance and Patrick Gale offers sixteen new stories in Gentleman’s Relish. Dark, witty and often obliquely moving, these are tales of difficult fathers and gay sons, of lonely wives and random or deliberate acts of violence. Among the best is Cookery, in which a closeted son takes hilarious revenge on his homophobic but stroke-muted father, leaving him to the care of “the sort of camp, Irish nurse his father would loathe. Said treasure wore a uniform he described as Doris Blue. He was delighted when Perry confided that his father had been sleeping with men on the sly all his married life and was a wicked old flirt with wandering hands.” Gale is interested in power and the lack of it and his stories pull the reader in unexpected ways, offering worlds that are far from certain and where love or its absence can never be predicted.

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