Saturday, January 8, 2022

365 Days of Short Fiction - Week 1

Week 1 Reading in Review

This week’s selections were spectacular and I’m excited to share them with you but I’m also thrilled to know that I have more to read from this stunning collection, Flock edited by Ellen van Neerven, later in the challenge.

Full disclosure, I started with a piece written by a friend and colleague, Melanie Saward but not because she’s a friend, because I respect and adore both her and her writing. What follows is a brief comment on each of the pieces I read this week. I didn’t want to write reviews as such but instead spark your interest in reading this collection so I’ve stuck to a short comment on the aspects of the pieces that struck me most strongly or that lingered the longest after I’d finished reading.

After reading 'Galah' the first night, there was a strong temptation to flick ahead to the next short story in my list... and then probably the next and the next. I resisted the urge to keep reading because part of my objective here is an exercise in delayed gratification and a kind of mindfulness — I want to pay proper and dedicated attention to each story by allowing it to sit in my mind, alone, for the evening. For six of the seven pieces, I read them at night before bed so I was able to allow each story to loll about in my head for 24 hours before the next one joined it. This gave me time to ponder each one, to honour the delicate nature of the short narrative, and to sit with the imagery and ideas. 

01/01/2022: ‘Galah’ by Melanie Saward
A story with attention to detail & alive with observations made by both the protagonist & the author. As a reader, I watch Sunny watching the galah and I feel for them both. This story works in layers and levels, deceptive in the apparent simplicity which hides its true complexity.

02/01/2022: ‘Cloud busting’ by Tara June Winch
A powerful story of family, friendship. effort, & reward. Told in two voices — one child, one adult but both equally authentic & nuanced. In so few words, The depiction of family, history, respectful relationships, & childhood is deftly beautiful.

03/01/2022: ‘Each city’ by Ellen van Neerven

A story that starts as everyday as laundry but quickly becomes a future-set threatening pursuit of creative truth tellers in a time when speaking truth is a revolutionary act of courage and defiance, even more so than it is now.

04/01/2022: ‘River story’ by Mykaela Saunders.
A song of longing for what was and what could have been — grieving for misplaced tomorrows. A story of fallibility & family, of memory & mothering, of trying & sometimes succeeding. This story broke my heart.

05/01/2022: ‘Stepmother’ by SJ Norman
A complex tale of recognisable awkwardness — the narrator in her skin; the relation­ships of characters with each other, and with food. This was a slow burn that didn't feel slow at all. I was struck by the power of understanding in this work.

06/01/2022: ‘Wait for me’ by Jasmin McGaughey
A emotional spin cycle — from fury to pain back to fury & excruciating pain again, and a grief that hollows out your insides. I was relieved when the misogynist we begin the story with, leaves; I should've known better.

07/01/2022: ‘Split’ by Cassie Lynch.
A story that seems to operate as part fiction narrative, part personal essay on Time and culture. The contrasting imagery tells the story of conflicting notions of belonging, of what is temporary and what permanent, of what is real and what remembered or imagined back into being.

So, what else have you got for me? Who’s your favourite short story writer?

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