I mentioned The Loudest Sound and Nothing by Clare Wigfall as one of my sanity reads in the midst of Booker madness and as today is launch party day it seems an apposite moment to post my thoughts.
You may remember I loved the cover, some hate it, but in this world of ever more complex and garish look-at-me jackets this one has been quite a restful treat.
I am not the greatest lover of the short story in the world, in fact I give up on more collections of these than I finish. Once I get a whiff of that "this was a novel going nowhere" aroma, disillusionment sets in and I lose the will to carry on.I was therefore pleasantly suprised to find a collection that caught my interest on the first page, sustained it through to the last page and definitely had me wanting to read more.Each one beautifully complete and the sense that you had just read something as fulfilling as a 300 page novel.
These stories take you everywhere, across the boundaries of time, place and circumstance to the individual worlds of people "all searching for something missing". Nothing is quite what it seems and thus is life revealed to be the complex and strange set of events that most of us know it to be, but rarely is that rendered so carefully on the pages of a book.
Clare Wigfall has written her opinions about the short story here and as I read her thoughts, that each of these story titles held a specific memory for her, where she was when she wrote it, what was happening in her life, what she was reading when she wrote, it was but a hop and skip for me to the obvious analogy with making a patchwork quilt.
As you piece together all the separate fabrics to make a whole and then stitch what is happening in your life into a quilt, then it would seem perhaps a writer does the same with a collection of short stories and doubtless with a novel too. I'd never thought of it quite like that before and, now that I have, I think I am a born-again short story collection reader with a passion and will be looking for many more.
There's been precious little quilting on here of late (sorry been a bit busy) so here's that little wall hanging, 6" blocks and names based on the titles of books I was reading at the time, now tacked to its layers of batting and backing and marked up ready for a winter of quilting ahead.
Plus below, a list of the names of the blocks and the books the block names represented for me, not always obvious unless you've read the book it has to be said (starting top left and moving clockwise)
Lady of the Lake - The Extra Large Medium by Helen Slavin (I love that little piece of chocolate brown in there, perfect for drawing in the eye)
Wedding Ring - Adam Bede by George Eliot
Cat's Cradle - The Pure in Heart by Susan Hill
Magic Cross - My Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
Ocean Wave - The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch
Maple Star - The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence
Silent Star - The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
Father's Choice - Room For a Single Lady by Clare Boylan