Sunday, November 9, 2008

Review of the Year

Hard to believe that the Short Review is now a year old, with several hundred on our mailing list and several hundred more in our Facebook group! Check out our Anniversary competition, you could win a copy of one of the books we are reviewing this month:

James Burr

Ugly Stories for Beautiful People

Win a signed copy!

Fran Friel

Mama's Boy and Other Dark Tales

Win a signed copy!
Jhumpa Lahiri

Unaccustomed Earth

Let's Be Alone Together

Bonus: get a free copy of Stinging Fly's first anthology, These Are Our Lives
Kuzhali Manickavel

Insects are Just Like You are Me Except Some of Them Have Wings
Jay Mandal

A Different Kind of Love

Win a signed copy!
Philip Shirley

Oh Don't You Cry for Me

Win a signed copy!
Neil Campbell

Broken Doll

Win a signed copy!
Gerard Donovan

Young Irelanders

Jennifer Pelland

Unwelcome Bodies

Win a signed copy!

Seems time for a little stock-taking and statistics:

This month's reviews bring the tally to 127 short story collections, including 31 collections that were published in 2008, reviewed by our reviewers all over the world.
  • 60 books published by small presses
  • 25 anthologies
  • 60 debut single author collections
  • 13 award-winning collections
See the Categories page for more.

62 authors have been interviewed about their stories, and here are a few tasters of what they've told us:

Sylvia Petter, author of Back Burning, said: “I’m always happy when people buy my books. But I’m happier when I hear that they have found something in them that has touched them in some way. Once the book is out there, it’s a part of yourself that you’re sharing - what you believe in, in a way”.

Sarah Salway, author of Leading the Dance, said she “went through a stage of feeling sick when I knew someone had read my work in case they didn’t like it, or thought I was ‘odd’. But now I’ve come to terms with the fact that there will always be some people who won’t like my stuff and also that I am definitely ‘odd’ !”

Kevin Barry, I learned, hides in bookshops, spying on browsers to see if they are buying his collection, There Are Little Kingdoms. Nikki Aguirre, author of 29 Ways to Drown, carries: “… a negative critic in my head. He keeps me on my toes and says all the biting things no one else dares. I let him too, but sometimes he gets carried away and won’t stop yapping. Then I have to threaten his chocolate intake. Oh, I can be cruel.”

And what does “story” mean to all these short story writers? Anything and everything, from “the feeling of holding onto a sparkling handrail into the dark” (Aimee Bender), and “something jewelled, dense, which will glow in the mind long after you have finished reading it” (Elizabeth Baines), and something that "has the power to blow off the back of your skull off" (Jennifer Pelland) to “the movement of a character from one place to another, how he or she got there, and what it means when they wind up in the new place” (Dave Housley), "Something we enter after it has begun and leave before it has finished" (Gerard Donovan) “a kind of uneasy, fetching trip that has a beginning middle and end, which doesn’t mean anything gets resolved, but an event or a worry gets worked through in an illuminating and, hopefully, generous way and you walk away knowing more than maybe you meant to” (Pia Z. Ehrhardt), "a place where people aren't judged" (Neil Campbell) and simply “the intense pleasure of getting to know another human being” (Paddy O’Reilly).