Sunday, April 04, 2010

Nightjar Press Chapbooks

I wasn't feeling so good last week, wiped out and pretty much ground to a halt. Nothing I had planned to do in the way of writing got done. I was flopping my way down the stairs one afternoon, fit for nothing but a sit by the fire, and a white envelope dropped through the letterbox in the hall below me, which turned out to contain two of these lovely single-story chapbooks from Nick Royle. They are the latest in his Nightjar Press series, 'Black Country' by Joel Lane and 'When the Door Closed, It Was Dark' by Alison Moore who was shortlisted for the inaugural Manchester Fiction Prize. (I already had Tom Fletcher's 'The Safe Children'.) So just the ticket!

I'm all for the idea of chapbooks containing single stories: it's a mode of production that respects the fact that a good short story exists in its in own right and pays most dividends if given the kind of singular, focussed attention which many people don't give to the stories in collections and anthologies, reading the books too much as they read novels.

I don't know whether all of the books in the series are intended to be thus*, but all of these three are different takes on the horror genre, and while the three writers have distinctive voices they nevertheless share a certain objective spareness of narration, and which indeed characterises Royle's own horror/alternative-reality stories. (Perhaps this last is a typical characteristic of horror writing - I guess I don't read enough to know.) Alison Moore's story is the most psychological of the three - it's a story of sexual and social power - Tom Fletcher's is a Brave-New-World-type story (and pretty shocking), while Joel Lane's is another of his spooky takes on the nature of reality.

So if you like horror/spooky/alternative these are just great for a sit by the fire. And they're cheap - only £3.00 (Chapbook: originally a small pamphlet sold by a chapman, a pedlar of inexpensive, ie cheap goods.)

* I guess the name may imply as much.


Ailsa Cox said...

They're great, aren't they? Michael Marshall Smith's 'What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night', another Nightjar book, scares the hell out of me. Glad you're feeling better.

Elizabeth Baines said...

Thanks, Ailsa. Nice to see you on here, now it's not term time!

I must get hold of that Nightjar!