It's not difficult to see that I've been seduced by some of the grand hitters from the big publishing houses of late and I'll confess the teetering booktowers of Babel have been far too tempting while I've been home having myself a restful convalesce. Analysis reveals some very satisfying reads and I'm going to say it now, I can't wait for the Booker Prize to come round. The dgr Bookerthon will most certainly be on again, anyone else up for the challenge?
But always trilling loudly alongside are the independent publishers, and I don't like to neglect their output for too long, especially when it slots so neatly into my short-story-a-day-for-a-year attempt.
Right so just to update, I've fallen off the short story wagon for the last couple of weeks, brain a bit wishy-washy and bizzarely demanding big long involving novels into which I can completely disappear. Short stories have however become the ambrosia (food of the gods, not the rice pudding) for my working brain, focusing as they do on the minuitiae of life in just a few pages and perfect preparation for the day ahead.
Adele Geras has written a marvellous defence of the short story over at normblog so that saves me the trouble because Adele articulates it far better than I could, but I am going to confirm the delights currently emerging from Salt, that most eclectic of independent publishers and I have a veritable pillar (will I get away with that?) of Salt books to read at the moment.
I've lapsed but will pick up where I left off with Some New Ambush by Carys Davies because, like Balancing on the Edge of the World by Elizabeth Baines, these stories capture the essence of a moment to perfection, the mistakes we all make and the solutions we find as we deal with everything life throws at us.
Hwang, the quiet revenge on the cheating adulterous friend had me cheering, yes cheering I tell you over a lost dry cleaning ticket. And just wait until you discover its demise, it's hilarious.
Waking the Princess reveals a unique way to a woman's heart and I guess, yes is the answer, I'd have been delighted with this gift of invention too all those years ago. To tell what would be to spoil.
The Gingerbread Boy almost too disturbing to read in the light of recent headline-hitting child abductions and this one, quietly powerful short story left me anguished. There is an aspect to child abduction that is rarely considered, we invariably assume we know the worst outcome but Carys Davies cleverly explores another outcome, one that should be far more comforting, except it was far from that. No word of a lie, this single story will stay in my mind for ever.
Sifting through the rest of the pillar of Salt, I have gathered in Richard Bardsley's Body Parts (not his actual body parts you understand) which will apparently shed a whole new light on the human body.
Then Broken Things by Padrika Tarrant.In her early thirties, based in Norwich and enthusiastically endorsed by the Hungarian poet and translator George Szirtes as
' an instinctive wanderer down knife edges...intensity of vision luminous...perception deeply humane, tender yet terrifying '
I love the idea of that seemingly impossible combination, I'm sold already, Padrika's world is likened to that of Angela Carter, and may both horrify and entertain at the same time.
I've started these and they absolutely do.
Read Darling and be equally sickened and moved to tears of empathy and sadness in the space of a mere five pages. Read Coffinwood and step for just five pages into the world of the psychotic mind and just see how real it seems.I'm just four stories into Broken Things but already I see precisely what George Szirtes meant when he wrote of Padrika Tarrant,
'It is the nature of her understanding that is perhaps the most remarkable...her poor crazy stuffed houses are overflowing with life, rich with spirits, miracles and creatures who, like the writing itself, shine and darken, jostle, sing and die.They are tangible, furnished visions, wonderful and humbling.'
Then The I Love You Book by William Guy looks quite unique. Monologues which gather together the thoughts of a hundred different men and women speaking about the people, places, life and things they love, The Footballer, The Twin, The Supermarket Checkout, The Night Angler, The Social Worker to name a few.
No The Health Visitor which is probably a relief.
However I've come to the conclusion that there's a unique correlation between the short story and my working health visiting day world but let's not confuse things for now, more on that another day.
P.S. I discover good news for Carys Davies and Some New Ambush here, congratulations to Carys and to Salt.