Ten Acceptable Acts of Arson

Sam Finnemore reviews 10 Acceptable Acts of Arson for Kete Books

My debut collection Ten Acceptable Acts of Arson and other very short stories was published in August 2021 by Canterbury University Press.

There are many messages in this book: Never go drinking using your passport for ID. Make sure to apply lidocaine before ripping out your toenails. Magic might be real, but it never fixes the worst of your problems. Try to fall in love with bastards. You or someone you know may be gayer than previously thought. We’re not going to make it to Mars. A locked psychiatric ward needs more books than a single copy of Jane Eyre. Asking time travellers for advice on your exams is considered cheating. It’s not just human houses that become haunted. The key message is this: Life in the early 21st century is often very strange. So are these stories.

With a crisp insouciance and gliding charm, Jack Cottrell’s fiery, fey, finely-tuned fictions leap from sci-fi to fantasy, comedy to horror, literary realism to romance, and to hybrids of all of these.

Featuring sport, friendship, love, health, family, climate change, artificial intelligence, desire, magic, Greek gods, ghosts, peanut butter, cyber pranks, racial prejudice, and creepy medical advances, his stories play with the allure of the past, the disturbances of our own times, and the dangerous idealism of our future technologies – each one in fewer than 300 words.

Some people have given it fantastic reviews, including in North&South Magazine, on RNZ and by Kete Books, from whom I nicked the image at the top of the page.

You can buy it here from CUP, or from your local bookstore, or you could ask your library if they have a copy, because libraries are awesome like that.