The latest Sleepers Almanac opens with a surreal encounter between a suave cane toad, presented as an amphibian Jiminy Cricket, and the guilt-wracked mother of a drug addict (‘Happy Monday’), and ends with the elaborate imaginings of a woman trying to distract herself from the reason why she is sitting in a hospital waiting room (‘How to Talk to a Fire Extinguisher’). Other themes echoing through the anthology include infidelity, sibling rivalry, mental illness, bullying, child abuse, ageing, death, and the complex nature of love. So far, so grim. Fortunately, there is a playful warmth to the Almanac that belies the gravity of its subject matter without lessening its impact.
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