This quartet of tales was written at various times and in various moods.
Hibernation may be seen as a warning to parents that a little white lie may become subject to the law of unintended consequences.
Duck tells of a power struggle between an older and a younger boy during a holiday in Wales.
Just a Little Kitchen Supper describes the most awful dinner party in the history of civilisation as we know it.
The title story, Come Away, O Human Child, describes the disappearance from the face of the earth, of every single child, but one.
Reviews for Come Away, O Human Child
The one I've been looking for...
One buys a lot of books, hoping to come across one like this. The stories are just long enough, hilarious and heartbreaking, profound and silly, depressing and uplifting. The reader doesn’t realize until it’s done that the reading has in some indefinable way, hardly noticeable, but vital, changed the world.
There are few lapses in this collection, all of them forgivable in light of the plethora of good stuff. The prose is finely crafted, manifesting an ease that only comes with lots of hard work and merciless self-criticism. It is a book I’d buy to gift my best friend. When I grow up, I hope I can write so well.
Hidden Truths Worth Finding
Come Away, O Human Child is a collection of four unrelated short stories.
“Hibernation” is a comically dark story, reminiscent of Roald Dahl, about a boy and two family pets – one of them, highly unconventional. Dancing in the background are questions of truth, fantasy, parental responsibility and the current trend of taking things too seriously. It’s well-crafted, witty and thoroughly enjoyable.
“Duck” is a far more serious tale that looks at the complexity of relationships, love, death and memory. Told with great sensitivity, “Duck” is the most realistic and substantial story of the collection.
“Just a Little Kitchen Supper” is “the most awful dinner party in the history of civilisation as we know it.” It makes Abigail’s Party look like the event sans pareil of the social season. Like the best comedy, it builds a series of logical premises until stability is lost and chaos ensues. The worrying part is how many of the constituent events of this disaster one recognises from personal experience.
“Come Away, O Human Child” is a metaphysical story; not real, and not science fiction, it is a grim fairy tale with no happy ever after. What gives the story its special edge is the matter-of-fact manner in which it is related and the similar way that the inhabitants of the story accept what’s going on. Thomson peppers the pages with clues as to what he is thinking, and it is told with his told with his customary wit and stylistic aplomb.