Freeplay Frenchie Reviews Strungballs!
In Mike Russell’s latest tale, we encounter Sydney, a young boy living in a weird, almost dystopian world with a grisly twist. In this bizarre tale, Sydney lives in a torus shaped city where its inhabitants contribute cubes of flesh out of their own bodies to the Sphere of Flesh protecting the people from ‘The Others’. beyond the city. To fill the gap left behind, literally speaking, people insert strungballs, small red balls hanging on string. Of course, those who have contributed the most cubes of flesh are regarded as model citizens. The strungballs themselves are converted, with new models being especially sought after though their purpose is not entirely obvious. However, it becomes clear later on that upon removing a strungball the wearer soon begins to question everything around them and the status quo, which otherwise is undiscussed.
What at first may appear to be a rather odd and quirky story, upon analysis seems to be in fact a metaphor for the control we experience in our own lives and how dependent we are on the system that surrounds us. It seemed to me that the strungballs in this story represent the comfort we receive from the material goods we fill ourselves with to avoid dealing with the harsher realities of society. At one point, poor Sydney removes his strungball only to instantly regret it and miss it terribly. He soon realises though that in order to seek out the real origin of their world he must let it go.
I don’t want to spoil anything because you really must read it for yourself but I will end my short review on this. The great thing about this novella is that it’s very easy to read and short which means anyone can read it in an afternoon. Not only that but it’s these types of stories that make us question our own society that I feel are going to be vital to literature in the coming years.
I would also say that it reminded me of Franz Kafka’s work that I studied at University and if you’re looking for something a little, ‘out there’ Mike Russell’s stories are the ones you want to be reading.