Quill and Quire

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The Lord of the Fries and Other Stories

by Tim Wynne-Jones

Short story writers often find their stories grow longer as they mature. This is apparent in this new book by Tim Wynne-Jones. The Lord of the Fries,/I> contains just seven long and leisurely stories. In a few of these, Wynne-Jones addresses problems recognizable to teens and pre-teens. In “Ick,” a boy watches a handsome, predatory teacher close in on the bright young girl they both admire. In “The Bermuda Triangle,” Jim is literally struck dumb with grief when his father is lost in the woods. When Wynne-Jones takes on problems, even mundane ones, he refracts them through his unique imagination so that they appear in new lights, and always, no matter what the problem, the solution lies in ordinary acts of kindness. In “Ick,” the entire class bands together to covertly threaten the teacher with exposure. In “The Bermuda Triangle,” Jim recovers his voice through kindness to an elderly neighbour.

Most of these stories are peopled by typical Wynne-Jones characters – super-bright, quirky kids who see the world in unusual ways. But the two girls in the title story are refreshingly unexceptional. Carrie and Sam are offered huge amounts of money to expose the human interest story behind the “Lord of the Fries,” the town’s grumpy fast-food cook with a mysterious background. The story is a great one, but in uncovering it they also learn that exploitation has a deeper price they aren’t willing to pay. “The Fallen Angel” is touched by the subtle supernatural hand that Wynne-Jones uses rarely, always with haunting results. As Rodney, a skilled boy soprano, struggles with his changing voice, a promising, devilish newcomer quietly wreaks havoc. These stories are, as always, written with breathtaking skill. The Lord of the Fries is another winner from one of our finest writers.