There are few contemporary writers with the story telling ability of Anneliese Mackintosh. In Any Other Mouth, her collection of short stories, she crafts words in a not dissimilar fashion to how Michelangelo chiselled marble.
She is relentless with her assault on your mind, like the Italian was relentless in the way he exposed your eyes to the beauty of his works. From the off Mackintosh claws at you, asking for nothing except that you sit down and hear her. As you listen to her, you find yourself wanting to hug her, applaud her, laugh with her, cry with her, and at times, cry for her.
With such a varied collection it’s hard to pigeonhole and say that she is a compassionate, vibrant, melancholy, excitable writer, or indeed any of the other adjectives that could be thrown her way. Instead, Anneliese comes across as I imagine she does in real life – passionate, knowledgeable, caring and unflinchingly honest.
Michelangelo said: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” I get the same feeling from this book. Reading a book knowing that it is fact based fiction is a peculiar feeling because you’re forced to be voyeuristic.
The subject matter of this book can be brutal at times, and creates an awkward standoff between writer and reader – but you always see what she is doing and you read on to find out how she sets the story free. Often people read for escapism, but Any Other Mouth makes you feel like you’re sat naked reading in front of everyone you’ve ever known next to a giant mirror that shows off the lingering muffin top, despite your efforts at the gym.
It makes you feel exposed to a world beyond your own and you end up the richer for it by the time you reach the final page.