A soldier on leave is confronted with the wounds of life left behind. An academic sees his certainties worn away by a researcher obsessed with facts. In a remote village a man grieving for his mother is stranded on the limits of memory. Mark Wagstaff’s new collection lays out eighteen reasons why he is one of the most inventive writers in English today. The stories fizz with vivid characters and beguiling situations to deliver truth from the grace and grime of life. In this world beyond the streetlights a brother and sister’s playground is an empty, lethal railway; an archaeology team’s important find has something vital missing; and a convict on the run gets an unexpected welcome from an old cellmate. Cooks, lovers, gardeners and accountants jostle through a collection that provides an exhilarating trip into a restless, hard-edged world.