by Various Authors
Part of the series of " The Short Story reinvented" anthologies
Authors Guy Mankowski, A.J. Kirby, Anne Devereux, Dave Foxall, Alistair
Meldrum, Ari O’Connell, Paul Burman, Josie Henley-Einion, Cassandra
Parkin and Brendan Telford
invited you in, you're sat right here on the Money train with the
crisp linen napkins and the bottles of champagne. Just
a few stops. Just a few stops and then, I swear, I'll get off.
Reviewed by Pauline Masurel
short stories are generally on the longer side of short, being in the
7,000 – 10,000 word range. Consequently, you have the chance to
settle into the voice of each of the authors and travel with them.
Interestingly, almost all are told in the first person person by a
narrator who is involved in the story, even Dear
which is a series of (unsent) letters. Perhaps this concentration on
personal, conversational narrative apes the travel writing genre,
where we expect our narrator to be part of the landscape and to
interpret it personally rather than in the impersonal third person of
a travel guide.
most other ways the book's title seems little more than a "McGuffin".
These are no more stories about journeys than they are about any
other thematic aspect of life. You might equally well have titled
this collection 10 Deaths or Memories and Betrayals. But the
journeying hook has worked as a launchpad to produce an entertaining,
well-written collection with plenty of surprises and intrigue. This
book is the fifth in Legend Press's series "The
Short Story Reinvented".
To my way of reading, this tag-line is something of an
over-statement for 10
given that only some of these stories are novel or experimental in
form, voice or content. Perhaps "The Short Story Revisited" would be
more appropriate description in this case?
journeys featured are often metaphorical or, alternatively, the
physical travel portrayed is an incidental backdrop to the internal
journey taking place. The stories are rarely travel pieces in the
sense that they're revealing new landscapes and cultures, more often
someone is encountering an alien situation within a world around them
that otherwise appears quite commonplace. For example, in The
New Head of Deaths,
Alistair Meldrum depicts a man who takes up this appointment just
after the death of his ex-girlfriend. He's worked for the same
company before, but now he sees it in a new light.
by Cassandra Parkin is "a fable of the streets, a true morality
tale for our times: a story every wet-behind-the-ears
starry-eyed idiot ought to hear, at least once. This is the story of
a man who managed to get himself a ticket for a ride on the Money
Train." I revelled in the pizazz of her street-dwelling narrator's
point of view. Assertions such as "Cows can be quite attractive,
you know, in a big-tits-long-eyelashes kind of a way" made me
Afraid to Fly
manages to combine a plane flight with a man's memories of his
marriage and a recipe for winter chilli. It sounds rather tasty –
the recipe that is. The tale ends with an extraordinary twist that
I'd defy any reader to predict. However, this might be because it's
just a tad too extraordinary to quite ring true without prior warning
in a story this naturalistic. But don't take my word for it, make a
trip to the ending yourself and see what you think.
like distance, is not a constant, whatever they teach you in school"
(Paul Burman – At
The Rawlings' Place).
Some journeys in space are also journeys in time. In particular,
Case of Jenni Wen
by A.J. Kirby. A dawning realisation regarding its chronology makes
for an interesting journey for the reader, even if it's not the first
time that this path has been traversed in literature. Anne
Deveraux's story What If You Slept
also questions our perceptions of time and reality.
collection does get out of its cars, planes and gravy trains, to see
a bit of the world. Angel
by Brendan Telford is set against the backdrop of the extraordinary
journeys of monarch butterflies. Ari O'Connell's story Ukini
is about a girl who travels from Australia to become a bargirl in
Japan, not something she planned.
"It grew up around a goodbye I
couldn't speak, the way flesh encircles an embedded splinter of
glass. You feel it but its hidden....My hometown is full of light
and heat and room to breathe but I couldn't find room for my grief.
So I packed my life up tight. I moved fast, so it couldn't keep up."
However, it turns out that the protagonist isn't the only one who
decides to run away.
If you're seeking reading material
for a journey of your own then this book may be just the ticket for
you to escape with.