I adore David Cohen’s inane sense of humour and in his latest collection of short stories The Terrible Event (Transit Lounge Publishing 2023), he is absolutely on fire with sparkling wit, strange, outlandish and mesmerising tales, stories of hilarity and sardonic, satirical ridiculousness, and as is his trademark style, deconstructing the absurdity of bureaucracy, red tape and the rules of life engagement, which in his hands become meaningless examples of the irrationality and farcicality of life.

An academic’s research into roadside memorials takes on a life of its own. A circular argument erupts over the avoiding of naming a public memorial to avoid any mention of the tragedy it is memorialising. We enter a world in which the homeless ‘culvert people’ are discriminated against. A man’s life is summarised in a few short chapters, prefaced around walking. A childhood doll gains a new life as its previous (now adult) owner’s best friend.

The collection is chock full of ‘terrible events’, as the name implies: simple furniture removal gone wrong, bad decisions, sliding door moments, misunderstandings, deliberate misrepresentations, accusations. One of my favourites is about a customer service representative who finds employment in a weird little office, job-sharing with a mysterious woman who still works from home (though it is no longer required) and has such a nebulous presence that he wonders if she even exists.

Funny writing is the hardest to do well, and David Cohen has nailed it again. If you enjoyed his previous collection, The Hunter and Other Stories of Men, you will love this book.