I was vaguely aware of these awards, but hadn’t really paid much attention. But it looked like the perfect size for my journey home when I found myself in Birmingham New Street station (now including Foyles) without a single piece of reading material. I am fond of short stories, as is stated in the introduction:
… the art of making the fewest words carry the greatest burden of narrative drive, tension, atmosphere, sentiment, wit, even humour. You can summon an entire world in 8,000 words or fewer, and the pointed brevity of your words will make it resonate in your reader’s mind with a force that is out of all proportion to the slimness of the word-count.
With just five tightly-written stories, exploring key human experiences of death and familial love. I had hear of only 2 of these authors, and had only previously read work by Haddon. From this collection I was very impressed by Jonathan Buckley’s Briar Road, where we explore grief, mysticism and cynicism, and Frances Leviston’s Broderie Anglaise, dealing with a conflicted mother-daughter relationship in adulthood. Both of these were the sorts of story where afterwards it was necessary to rest the book for a while, and let the story echo through my mind for a few minutes. I will be looking out for more of their work in the future.
The remaining stories were also strong, but not to my personal taste. It reminded me that I can’t get on with Hilary Mantel, and the others were just too grim for me. Maybe I just needed something lighter after a long day and an early start!