'At the beginning of 2013 I began an experiment. Could I write a short story on every day of the year? The stories would all be exactly the same length: 365 words. By the end of the year, if the experiment was successful, there would be 365 365-word stories...
Not me but James Robertson so on October 1st 2014 I began an experiment too..
Could I read a 365 word short story every day for 365 days.
If the experiment was successful I would be really pleased with myself and tell you about it because, no matter how hard I try, reading experiments like this often lose their appeal, I fall off the wagon and before I know it a month has passed and the experiment is forgotten. If it failed the book would go off to the charity shop and someone else could have a go.
So I wasn't hopeful of success when I opened 365 stories by James Robertson and made a start, but here I am, two months into my experiment and feeling confident enough to say the book has become a habit if not an addiction, and by jove I think the experiment might be a success.
The stories have been published online daily through 2014 on Hamish Hamilton's Five Dials website but all that had passed me by until the book arrived, and if I am honest it is the book rather than a computer screen that is keeping me on song, though it would work well on a Kindle too. Each day a complete and perfectly formed story that has filled a rather large hole in my fiction reading for a while now. You know those phases when every novel you pick up fails to appeal, and I always find the best remedy is a collection of short stories and these have worked like a dream.
Thus far, given I have started the book 10/12ths of the way through, I have met
...connections one day to the next,
...maybe a sequel,
...there is satire and history,
...routine events that gather subtle new meanings in my mind as the day progresses,
...observations on the obvious that suddenly twist to reveal the obscure,
...a treatise on porridge and its merits with which I heartily concur,
...the merits of bicycles versus books,
...some confusion in a bookshop over non-fiction and nun-fiction,
...a trip to the dentist where 'Janice imagined her mouth resemble the cutlery basket of a dishwasher,
...a brilliant snoop around a neighbour's flat whilst they are in Australia for three weeks.
and so much more.
Some of the stories offer an instant moment, others linger, develop and expand on themselves before flowing into something else as the day goes on (I do usually pick the book up in the morning) and with them comes a gamut of emotions. I might have a Wry Smile Day, maybe a laugh out loud moment, perhaps I am astonished, or sad, pensive or see something with new eyes...whatever, I can guarantee something.
Like the Forth Bridge, by the time I reach the end (DV etc) on September 30th 2015, I will be ready to start over so if you are looking for a Christmas present that keeps on giving, perhaps for some one who only has time for bite-sized chunks of reading, or who loves the challenge of a daily read while the bath is running, or if you fancy this yourself and can drop huge hints in someone's ear, then I don't think you could go wrong with 365 stories.