A year ago, I was surprised – in the nicest possible way – to be writing about the experience of being edited rather than editing (as that’s part of my day-job), when one of my stories appeared in The Mechanics’ Institute Review: Issue 10.
Nice surprises, despite feeling otherwise sometimes, do sometimes happen twice: I’m not just pleased but proud, honoured and a wee bit flattered to have another story included in Issue 11, which will be published on 25 September. To say I didn’t expect to see my name directly above Hari Kunzru on the contents page of a literary anthology is to put it very mildly indeed.
So why am I blogging about it? Because I’d love the world to buy a copy so that they can read the other stories in it. I could rattle on for several pages, but I’ll restrain myself to a few personal favourites:
Rebecca Rouillard’s Our First Lesbians tells the story of a preacher’s wife in the Johannesburg suburbs who is torn between her own inclinations and the strictures of her husband and his faith
Sara Keene’s Foreign Territory is the beautifully crafted story of Virginia, a fading war correspondent whose personal territory becomes alien and unknown to her
Angela Shoosmith’s Grand Theft is a tale of petty crime and human error that moves unexpectedly and empathetically, and moves me in similar ways
Jacquelyn Shreeves-Lee’s Olivia in 4 Parts covers an entire life in just 10 pages, revealing a circularity that far more than simply ‘ashes to ashes’
Walter Jones’ Son of an Honest Man brings shades of Kafka to the seemingly simple and uncontroversial task of mowing someone’s lawn
Antonia Reed’s On The Rocks tell where differences that might readily be a source of scorn or shame become instead a stepping stone to understanding and companionship
Or, to put it another way, if you buy Hari Kunzru and Alex Preston, you’ll wind up getting twenty-three other stories of not just great scope and variety, but impressive quality too. You could always just order a pizza, but I’d wager the book delivers more by way of nutrition.