Brett’s stories focus on the intimate and the close. In doing so they arrive at borderlines drawn within and between people, the fine threads that both separate and bind us together. In a library, on a train, in a restaurant, or bus, these threads are either pulled tight, or relaxed. They can also conjoin and interweve until whole continents reflect their strange, contorting pattern, but they all begin with the intimate; with strangers greeting one another on a platform, with families mourning a loss, or with lovers separating in a street. In his writing he tries to locate and hold onto these moments that mark the line along which life breaks.
Between these moments of union and letting go there are words that attempt to breach this line of separation. But once they leave our lips our words dissipate. They miss their mark. We can never fully say what we feel, can never fully communicate. This difficulty of communication between people is the conflict he uses to drive a story forward, the battle to make ourselves understood.
Brett comes from Newcastle, a place where language can still feel like a song. This song was carried on Viking ships coming to raid our towns, and has since melded with laughter, with beer, the sound of football stadiums, with Paul Gascoigne’s tears and Jimmy Nail’s voice. But beneath this song Brett hears a sadness. A song is always closer to what we cannot say. The language of Newcastle listened to carefully, registers the inevitable failure of language, and this is how it sings, with a smile. The people of the North East sound friendly, are friendly, since we carry in us an unconscious realisation, drawn either from the darkness of the pits or from the shadow of now missing ships, that life is frail, is precarious, and so should be lived, should be sung about, joked about, written of, drank to, and loved.
In Brett’s stories he is trying to find his own note to add to this song, a note to bridge the gap between people and between the parts of myself. This gap has now become the subject of his writing, the gap between our words and our intentions, between ourselves and others, the land we live on, the animals we live alongside. Brett writes about people in order to trace the edge of this space.
Brett studied writing in order to approach this subject with greater skill. He has an MA in Professional Writing, and write every day when he can. He has worked as a script-writer for short films, and last year had a critical theory article published on the Institute of Contemporary Arts blog.
Reflecting his key themes, the language in his writing swings sometimes like a pendulum between inner and outer worlds, leaves silences hanging and then jumps toward action, working its way between two poles.