It's all too easy for short stories to read as something very slight - either as tales which don't have a strong enough backbone to support a bigger plot, or as bits of poetry in prose form which delight in the rhythm of words over meaning or point. What makes Elizabeth Baines' collection so brilliant - and why, no doubt, it was deservedly nominated recently for an international award - is that she perfectly plays with both the page-turning quality of novel's fiction, and a crafted beauty you usually only associate with verse. These are stories concerned with 'power', in all its forms - whether it be the hilarious tale of a naive screenwriter and the way her fledgeling script is abused by a film course, or the magical superhuman powers of a young child ignored by the numbing reality of parents getting divorced. They're funny, and moving, and thoughtful - but above all, they're short stories which celebrate how beguiling short stories can be. Read and be enchanted.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
When it comes from a talented short story writer...
I have just been paid the ultimate compliment for a short-story writer, praise from a most talented writer of his own exciting, unique short stories. Rob Shearman, whose collection Tiny Deaths (Comma Press) was longlisted for the Frank O'Connor Award, shortlisted for the Edge Hill Prize and is also shortlisted for the World Fantasy Awards, has given Balancing this lovely Amazon Review: