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Tim Jones

The first time she walked down the street, pots jumped off stoves, coal leapt from scuttles, wood went rat-a-tat tattling down hallways. In our yard, a broom and a spade got up and lurched around like drunks, trying to decide which way she’d gone. "

Reviewed by Majella Cullinane

Tim Jones describes his writing as a “mixture of science fiction and “mainstream” literary fiction; sometimes within the same story.” Transported, a collection of twenty-seven stories encompasses a mixture of genres including satire, science fiction, fantasy, realism and humour. Depending on your point of view, this eclectic blend of genres can be seen as either the collection’s main strength or its main weakness. Strength in the sense that stories are often fresh, surprising and engaging; weakness in that they vary hugely in quality, effect and appeal.

Having said that there is much to enjoy in Transported. I felt that Jones’ writing was at its best when he allowed the full range of his quirky imagination to run free. Humour underpins many of the stories. When She Came Walking focuses on a young man and his love for a rather unusual girl; she manages to get arrested for public disorder as her presence causes inanimate objects to come alive. This story displays Jones’ keen sense of humour, and captures young love brilliantly: 

dinner [with Kate] was undoubtedly delicious but it might have been boiled cardboard for all the attention I paid it. 

Jones applies his satiric mode in the short and amusing story, A Short History of the 20th century, with Fries which sees Lenin set up a family restaurant and ultimately choke to death on a fish burger in 1924. The New Neighbours is a witty allegory about aliens moving to small town New Zealand; Jones employs wry humour and a light touch throughout. Sisters centres around the Maori myth of Kapiti and Mana and is told in evocative and lyrical prose. 

Jones uses many historical figures in his collection; Borges, for example, appears in two stories, but for me Measureless to Man, an alternative tale of how Coleridge finds inspiration for his famous poem Kubla Khan was the most enjoyable. 

The fast-paced fantasy tale After the War which follows Takan, an orc striving to survive after “the Master has failed” was really excellent. Going Under is an engaging and stimulating story about second chances and not giving up. Cold Storage, where the central protagonist finds himself in Antarctica, and a creature of the ice is resurrected, builds up to an unexpected and entertaining close. 

Some of the shorter stories like Filling the Isles, Queen of the Snows and Borges and I left me unsatisfied, and I found Not Wanted on Voyage rather bland. 

For me Jones’ writing was at its best in humourous and fantastical mode, and in the more realistic, longer stories which were strongly character-driven, such as Going Under and The Wadestown Shore. I do wonder if Jones would be best exploring these strengths, or alternatively dividing his short story collections into separate genres in the future. If you’d like to try a short story collection that blends genres then Tim Jones’ Transported will appeal to you.

Read some of Tim Jones' short stories on his website, TimJonesBooks.blogspot.com.

Majella Cullinane is from Ireland. She has lived in Africa, Europe and New Zealand. Writing awards include a Sean Dunne Poetry prize, a Hennessy for Emerging Poetry, an Irish Arts Council award, and in 2007 she was long-listed for the Fish Short Histories Fiction Prize. More recently, she’s worked as a Writer in Residence in Scotland. 



Publication Date: June 2008

Paperback/Hardback? Paperback

First collection?No.

Awards: Longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award 2008

Author bio: Tim Jones has published two volumes of poetry, a novel and an earlier collection of short stories, Extreme Weather Events. He is a writer, editor, web-content manager, husband, father, political activist and lover of cricket, music and many other fine things. He lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

Read an interview with Tim Jones

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Author's recommended bookseller: New Zealand Books Abroad



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