James Vella – Devourings
Devourings collects a variety of stories – each its own piece but bound to the next by a broader, unifying theme: being enveloped, devoured, by a moment, an encounter, a political situation, an emotion – which connect with absolute potency. Be they over a handful of paragraphs or a spread of pages, these short – and shorter – stories linger with a palpable resonance.
Devourings travels to many destinations, encompassing several scenarios and introducing myriad protagonists – and, frequently, antagonists. ‘Esthers’ follows a snaking murder plot set in 1940s Argentina; the malevolent machinations of ‘USS Passumpsic’ play out on a late-1950s Pacific. ‘The Lamb Opened The Fox’s Throat’ takes place in a fantastical ancient Arabia, a place of magic and little mercy. Geographically and chronologically divergent dramas are connected by a consistent, compelling tone.
Between the lines of dialogue: heat, dirt, desperation, realisation. Although imagined, these stories are sculpted as much by their stage as their players, landscape as significant a character as those who rise and fall before it. So the detail is always relevant: the texture of a city wall, the smell of the soil, the sweat cutting a strike across grimy skin. Mystery and myth, religion and science, war and love: the dramas’ cues come manifold. They each conclude consumed.
Devourings is James Vella’s first collection of short stories. British, of Maltese descent, and having spent substantial time in both territories, Vella’s fascination with travel – and the “dream travels” that real-world wanderings can stir in the imagination – has informed much of his writing.
Also a lyricist and accomplished musician, Vella has received critical acclaim for his songs. He lives in Brighton, where he works in the music industry. Vella’s debut novel will follow the release of Devourings’