Monday, August 23, 2010

Beat on the Brat by Nigel Bird

In this year's Watery Grave International competition at The Drowning Machine, Nigel Bird nabbed first place with his brilliant, lucid short story, Beat on the Brat.

In crime fiction shorts, I've rarely seen stories with multiple narrators. I would speculate that this is because it's tough to execute and, more often than not, confuses the reader. But Bird manages to pull it off in this piece with three different narrators. It took me a second to realize what was going on, but when I did it was worth it. Bird uses this technique to an interesting effect with all of the characters witnessing the same events from different perspectives. And each character has a distinctive voice--absolutely essential for this kind of piece.

More importantly, he tells a touching and brutal story about a failed baseball player-turned clown with a glass eye, and his relationship with a couple of kids who happen to have an insane father. Bird's writing is very distinctive--a conversational tone and short, choppy sentences, which he populates with vivid metaphors.

Beat the Brat will be making another appearance in the summer issue of Needle, which should be appearing in my mailbox any day now.


  1. Thanks for the review and the time. It's a story I'm really fond of. I hadn't planned to use 3 narrators, it's just the way it opened out as I moved from one section to the next - funny the way characters move you when you're not looking.
    Just a post script to say BOTB won this year's Watery Grave (last year that honour went to Hilary Davidson, no less).
    Enjoy Needle.

  2. Oops! My bad. I'll change that in the post.

  3. Great story. Pleased to be able to include it in NEEDLE.