Reviewed by Emma Young
The collection as a whole demonstrates a depth and variety so diverse
that it is difficult to believe that this is one person’s journey
in just one city. In lifting snapshots from her daily life,
recollections of conversations heard, Seltzer creates stories that
offer us an almost incomprehensible selection of characters. Her
writing is precise whilst evoking images that capture the imagination,
and structuring each story as a day works beautifully. Characters
take on a variety of forms and reflect the cosmopolitan nature of the
9: There is nothing notable about you until I see how immense your
eyes are behind your glasses. I tell you a funny story to see if it
really is funny. And sure enough, you laugh. An encounter with a
stranger provides a moment of exhilaration in which voices and lives
come together for a brief moment and exchange laughter and joy. It
serves as a reminder that human contact can be one of the most
positive things that life has to offer. One of the most emotive
and endearing moments of the collection.
is the first time I’ve not wanted to speak to a stranger. I’m
tired of trying. I see the puffed ruffled sleeves on your shirt and
how the elastic trim is digging into your forearms. You pull a pint,
you announce it with a raised eyebrow. I have nothing more to report.
You take my money, you return my change. I’ve done this too many
times now. This extract from Day 19 of the collection offers a
shift in tone from the preceding encounters. It recognizes the
conflict in living in a large city and how individuals can become
isolated, blank faces, and interaction can become frustrating and
disheartening. The repetition of experience and life are at the fore
of this moment. The tone is complimented by the poetic language of
the section with the "puffed ruffled sleeves" assonating and
creating an image so clear you feel as if you are at the bar too.
final moment I will share (although I could write of many more) is
one in which the environment and narrative blend in a way that offers
a universality of place transporting you out of the city.
Day 67: Who knows if the day will get any brighter, feel any more like
spring is near, a breeze lifting clothing, a sky filled with only
blue. But I do know we kept our appointment, that there is eagerness
in your voice and willingness to hear what I say, to listen to any
advice. This fills me with a cloud of achievement, a white puff of
pleasure. The weather becomes a metaphor for emotion as another
positive encounter with a stranger is described. However, what really
moved me with this story is that way that the passage ends with the
rapid change in tone and "the wasted energy of words that never
found their expression". The futility of situations and the speed
in which environments and feelings can change is captured perfectly
in this one day.
collection is heart-warming and innovative. The concept in itself was
enough to impress as in engaging technology (blogging) with
literature and experience Seltzer brings the short story in to the
twenty-first century. It is reassuring to see that art of this nature
is being taken seriously and published in Britain today.
a PhD student at the University of Leicester working on her thesis:
Contemporary Women’s Writing and the Short Story Genre. Her work
explores the implications of gender and genre by discussing the work
of numerous contemporary British women authors including Ali Smith
and Sara Maitland and considers the implications of new digital
technology on the status and future of the short story.