I stopped doing reviews a while back but when I was asked by Saira at Arachne Press to review Laura’s collection, I didn’t hesitate. Flash fiction is my favourite form of creative writing and Laura is a regular, often successful, entrant to my monthly 100-word competition so two reasons to say ‘yes’.
Split into four seasons, each section contains 25 stories, some of which are familiar territory but most new to me.
I love titles, especially quirky ones, and ones like ‘How to be Normal’, ‘Raining Colours’, ‘The Pupa Stage in the Lifecycle of Audrey Brown’, and ‘Housewife 500’ were ones I was especially looking forward to… and they didn’t disappoint.
Speaking of quirky, although I know Laura’s writing well, I challenge anyone (not for money!) not to be hooked on the opening of the first story: Dave carries his girlfriend in the left-hand breast pocket of his shirt.
It’s a very emotional collection. As a competition judge (for others, not just my own) the best stories tend to be ones where you have a reaction at the end. A ‘huh?’ is not good and it goes from there all the way to ‘wow’. With this collection I soon lost track of how many ‘wow’s I was uttering to the point where my dog had that ‘here she goes again’ look.
The stories take us to various points around the globe but one thing that links them all is humanity. I love characters, and while most stories are understandably plot-led, there is a wealth of characters we can relate to, even if they’re nothing like us, or we’ve not been through what they’ve been through – for that we should be thankful!
Some films started life as short stories (The Shawshank Redemption and Brokeback Mountain to name two) and while Laura’s are incredibly short, many lent themselves to being the start or plot of a larger work. There are unions, reunions, meetings and greetings, thought-provoking pieces, and those simply there to entertain.
Although I read this collection in one sitting, it’s the kind you could dip in an out of and let these stories linger, returning for a second, third and umpteenth read.
I’d love to share with you my favourites but there were simply too many, although one in particular made me chuckle as a character loves his Alexa (Amazon Echo device) even more than I do.
As well as being a competition judge, I’m an editor. While I would have made very minor tweaks had this been something sent to me for editing (e.g. sighing isn’t a dialogue verb so should be a separate sentence to what’s said, some words hyphenated or unhyphenated, a ‘his’ changed to the character’s name where another of the same gender has just been mentioned, I’d have chopped some ‘said’s where the character’s doing something, and some of the ‘just’s 🙂 ), the stories are written to such a tight (100 words exactly) format that losing a word or two would have meant ‘padding’ to return to the correct figure.
I had high expectations and was not disappointed, as I’m sure you won’t be when you read this wonderful collection. It was published on 27th May 2021, so hot off the (Arachne) press! Available from https://arachnepress.com/books/short-stories/100nehundred-laura-besleyand where good books are sold, as the saying goes (ISBN: 978-1913665272). Laura can be found on Twitter and Facebook.
My thanks go to Saira and of course Laura, not only for creating this endearing collection but for being one of the many stalwarts of my competition.
About Laura Besley: Laura Besley writes short fiction in the precious moments when her children are asleep. She has been listed by TSS Publishing as one of the top 50 British and Irish Flash Fiction writers. Her work has been nominated for Best Micro Fiction and her story, To Cut a Long Story Short, will appear in the Best Small Fiction anthology in 2021. 100neHundred is Laura’s second short fiction collection.
About 100neHundred: A man carries his girlfriend in the left-hand breast pocket of his shirt. During World War II, a young soldier searches the houses and barns of the families with whom he grew up. An astronaut wonders whether she can adapt to life back on earth.
In her second collection of short fiction, Laura Besley explores a kaleidoscope of emotions through 100 stories of exactly 100 words each.