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Morbid Obsessions review: A safety blanket for the marginalised

Two searingly funny short stories that bring home the harsh realities of living at the centre of the culture wars, writes Barry Pierce

There’s a war on, but only some of us know it’s happening,” writes Morgan M. Page in her introduction to Morbid Obsessions: On trans and sex worker bodies and writing fiction from the margins, the latest chapbook from the radical queer publisher Cipher Press. The war that Page is referring to is the one that positions trans people and sex workers on one side and everyone who thinks they represent everything that’s wrong with modern society and culture on the other. Most level-headed people (and thankfully, according to recent polls and surveys, that is most of the British population) do not think that trans people and sex workers are a hazard to the fabric of British society. There is, however, a very small and very vocal group of people who do believe this and, for some reason, they’ve managed to wield an amount of power that far outweighs their numbers. For those of us who genuinely fear the outcome of this power, Morbid Obsessions is a safety blanket. 

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Morbid Obsessions book cover
Morbid Obsessions by Frankie Miren & Alison Rumfitt (Cipher Press, £8.99)

The brainchild of Frankie Miren and Alison Rumfitt, the acclaimed authors of The Service and Tell Me I’m Worthless, respectively, Morbid Obsessions contains two short stories and a conversation between its two authors. The stories, Mother by Miren and A Unique Case of British Disease by Rumfitt, are refreshing, searing and funny. In Miren’s story a sex worker becomes obsessed with an online forum aimed at mothers that becomes a hotbed for anti-sex work and trans rhetoric while Rumfitt’s story is about a trans woman cast among a group of “gender critics” who are all eagerly awaiting the arrival of their de facto leader – a billionaire children’s author. It doesn’t take a genius to work out where or at whom both stories are taking aim but that’s what makes them work. Sometimes, you’ve gotta be obvious.  

Morbid Obsessions is available at Cipher Press

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