Here: The Redbeck
Anthology of Contemporary Short
"He closed his eyes and listened to the
thundering of hooves landing in turf, and tried to picture himself,
arrow-punctured, fallen, captured, the three shafts pointing
emphatically at him – You are here! You are here!
You are here!"
by Chelsey Flood
Edited by Bill
Jane Metcalfe, is a collection of thematically and stylistically varied
short stories. With shorts ranging from just a couple of pages to a
more epic thirty pages long, this anthology is full of eccentric and
broken characters, with deluded celebrities, courting pensioners and
the ghost of Jack Kerouac littering its pages.
introduction to You
Are Here, Broady and Metcalfe write that there’s
only one thing that sells less than a short story collection, and
that’s a short story anthology. This introduction highlights
the fact that the short story remains largely overlooked by the
majority of readers, publishers and booksellers, but also the fact that
whether profitable or not, the short story remains a popular form of
writing that won’t be easily dismissed. And there are many
examples of new and established writers reworking, experimenting and
excelling within this often under appreciated medium in this anthology.
With such a varied
selection of writing and such a small space to write about it, perhaps
the best way to proceed is to flag up a couple of the most effective
pieces of writing within the book. Gerard Woodward’s story, You
Are Here is, quite deservingly, the anthology’s
namesake. A genius short in which the protagonist,
having been set upon by multiple longbowmen, risks his life rather than
reveal his injuries to a stranger, it stresses the level to which
social embarrassment can warp a person’s logic, and in
effect, destroy their life. The story portrays Jake’s world
concisely and thoughtfully, with humour and sensitivity, scratching
itself on to the reader’s mind the way that only the very
best shorts can. A perfectly shaped piece, it holds the
reader’s attention until the very end, with the unexplained
strangeness at the root of the story never detracting from the impact
that it has.
Emma Unsworth takes
totally different approach with her story Care.
Unfolding for the majority of the time in a residential home for the
elderly, Care explores the dynamic between young
and old, drawing a parallel between the aged Maude and the youthful
Caroline, and pointing subtly towards the inevitability of death and
the ultimate end of all relationships, significant or otherwise.
Written with honesty and compassion, Care is an
effective portrait of two women whose lives are equally static, though
stagnating in vastly different ways. Unsworth explores the space
between being with somebody out of love and out of loneliness, and
whether or not this division is important in the end. The sense of
completion and fulfilment that resounds after You Are Here is
absent from this work, but Unsworth’s more enigmatic ending
reflects her theme, continuing like the irrepressible cycle of life
that her character struggles to find meaning in.
With many more
original stories from a wide
spectrum of writers, including David Rose and Angela Lambert, You
Are Here is a brilliant book to dip in and out of, whether
you are a fan of short fiction or not. Featuring established and new
voices, this anthology presents various styles of writing, covers
numerous subjects, and deals with a multitudinous range of themes,
proving with its vitality that rich, red blood still pulses through the
veins of this often overlooked art form, the short story.
Flood has had short fiction published in
various literary journals and magazines including Riptide and White
Chimney Magazine. She also writes theatre and book reviews for Stranger
Magazine, Eyewear and The Small Press Review.
and Jane Metcalfe
Redbeck Press (Redbeck Press, 24 Aireville
Road, Frizinghall, Bradford, BD9 4HH)
Authors: Gerard Woodward’s first poetry
collection, Householder, won
the 1991 Somerset Maugham Award. His novel I’ll Go
To Bed At Noon, was short-listed for the Booker Prize in
2004. Emma Unsworth’s short fiction has appeared in the
anthologies Bracket and Comma,
both edited by Ra Page.
you liked this book you might also like.... :
Riley "Tuesday Nights and Wednesday Mornings"
Miranda July "Nobody
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L Kennedy "Now that you’re back."