Synopsis: This anthology features the work of 33 talented new writers, representing almost all parts of the globe. Their pieces have been selected from the intercultural, literary showcase The Writer’s Drawer, run by academic editor and writer Beryl Belsky. The stories and poems in the anthology reflect not only literary merit but also the multicultural nature of the website and its contributors. The book is divided into three parts: Short Fiction, Stories from Life and Poetry. The Stories from Life, in particular, provide a fascinating look at the cultural mores and religious rituals of the countries of the writers. The book is an ideal gift for lovers of all genres of writing and for those who enjoy literature from different cultures. Its mix of cultural-specific and universal themes makes it an excellent tool for teachers to use in the classroom, too. Dip into a story or poem before sleep, in a coffee shop or during a trip.
The short fiction section covers ten stories, each from different authors spread around the globe (Canada, England, USA, Liberia / Thailand, South Africa, and Switzerland). With the first story, the title piece of the collection, by Canadian, Susan Rodgers, we start with a sense of foreboding – the kind I like in a story – before the story gets going. Character is what makes a story and although their surroundings play a large part, I liked the fact that they’re quite different people. This story is pacey yet slow in even quantities. My only gripe is that it switches point of view mid-paragraph but that’s me with my editor’s hat on. It’s a sad tale which is hinted at at several points during the story but you never know whether it will come or not, until it does… or not.
Next up is ‘Abigail’ by English writer Elizabeth L Abrey. The writing, especially the dialogue, feels rather stilted, too perfect in places and feels like Elizabeth is a new writer but I may be wrong. Although I like the idea, it doesn’t quite work for me which is a shame because I’m a big fan of twist stories. One problem was that Ruby’s described as a new neighbour yet he knows all about their family history.
The third story is another from the US, this time by IC Booth. The title ‘Seasoned Card Player’ hints at the plot although my idea was vanquished as the location revealed itself to be an old people’s home. A very sweet short short story, perhaps my favourite of the collection as it doesn’t feel as if it tries too hard to please but does so on its own merit.
From Liberia / Thailand comes a tale of stubbornness which comes with dire consequences – a ‘tale’ indeed.
South African stories are often packed with description and this is no exception. It’s a sad tale that fits from scene to scene with a poignant ending.
I like stories where inanimate objects become characters in their own right and this time it’s a maroon sweater and its significance on the day in question. The plot for this story has been written about several times but it doesn’t lessen it for me – the psychology of it is interesting.
‘8th and Pine’ is from US / Switzerland and an interesting piece set in an interesting location.
We stay with Switzerland for the eighth story ‘Immortal Beloved’ but go back to the 19th Century. Although a distinctly different story, it reminded me of The Girl With The Pearl Earring, although the ‘celebrity’ in this piece was a composer rather than artist; Beethoven, whose music I love.
We return to the US for the penultimate and possibly shortest (two page) story of the collection and a super flash fiction piece.
We end, still in the US, with ‘Nuked’, and an interesting hook: ‘July 12, 1959, was a quiet day.’ We know when we are and want to know why it was quiet. Of course if nothing happens there’ll be no story so it makes me want to read on. It had me hooked until eight pages in and became surreal. I like quirky, weird but no so much surreal but I read on and am glad I did because I really liked the ending.
Having read some of the talented writers from my original review, I knew the short stories had a lot to live up to and while some stories were stronger than others it was an enjoyable read.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
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