Tuesday, December 21, 2010

National Short Story Day in the UK

You don't need to be in the UK to celebrate the first National Short Story Day, today, December 21st, the shortest day of the year! Instead of going on again and again about how wonderful short stories are (which we tend to do anyway, monthly...), here is a Twitter widget thingy which tells you who is recommending what for NSSD - you don't need to be registered on Twitter to click the links. Happy reading!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

National Short Story Week in the UK!

Nov 21st - 28th has been designated by a group of short story lovers as the UK's first National Short Story Week. We at the Short Review are delighted, of course, although every week is short story week for us! Check out their website to see what's happening. And as part of the festivities they asked 9 short story writers including Short Review authors Alison MacLeod, Adam Marek, Sarah Salway and Tom Vowler ( and myself include - TH) to play a game of "consequences", each adding 100 words to a story until a complete 900 word story emerged. Here is the result!


by Tania Hershman, Alison MacLeod, Adam Marek, Julie Mayhew, Jonathan Pinnock, Valerie O'Riordan, Sarah Salway, Tom Vowler, Susie Wild

Too many things. She grabs a pencil and an old envelope. Repeat prescription. Road tax. Library books overdue. Pay cheque in. No, too late for that. The kids will be waiting for her already. Damn. Where are the sodding keys?

The doorbell rings. She freezes. If she doesn’t make any sound, they will go away. Please. Go. Away. Now.

The doorbell rings again. Insistent. Won’t take no. The car is on the other side of the door.

“Hello?” she says.

‘May I come in?’

‘Well, actually, I’m in a bit – ‘

He’s in her kitchen. Hint of tobacco smoke. Late 20s. Mediterranean? ‘You haven’t changed,’ he says, taking hold of her chin. There’s a faint accent.

‘Let go!’ she says, pushing him away. ‘Do I know you?’

He reaches into his pocket. He throws the box down onto the table.

‘Go on,’ he says. ‘Open it.’

Again she goes to protest, to insist he leaves, but the lilt of his voice, his sanguine demeanour, suggests this would be unreasonable on her part.

‘What is it?’ she says, looking at the table.

‘You don’t remember, do you? At all.’

There is a hint of something forming, fragments of a memory gathering at the edges of her mind. A holiday. One of those hedonistic affairs where groups of friends convene on a superficially picturesque island, standards and judgment discarded for a fortnight, lost in a maelstrom of excess. Fifteen or so years ago. The young woman she’d been then embarrasses her now. The box, no bigger than the man’s fist, is carved from redwood, its lustre heightened by the kitchen’s fluorescent
lighting. She touches it with the tip of a finger, pushes it an inch or two.

The man lights a cigarette, exhales dramatically.

‘I’d rather you didn’t smoke in here,’ she says.

He pushes the box back towards her. ‘It’s not going to bite,’ he laughs.

The phone rings. ‘That’ll be my kids. I have to go. I’m sorry.’

‘I’ve travelled a long way,’ he says. ‘You have me worried that you really don’t remember me. Please tell me you’re just playing?’

She picks up the phone, and before she gets it to her ear, he says, ‘You’re the one that asked me to come.’

‘I’m on my way to get you both now,’ she says into the phone. ‘I’m leaving right this second.’

‘Both who?’ her daughter says.

‘What do you mean? Is your brother not with you?’

‘Mum,’ she says, ‘have you been smoking crack again or something?’

The man pushes the box right up to the edge of the table in front of her. ‘It’s very important you open this now,’ he says.

‘Anyway I’m not coming home. You promised I could stay at Laura’s.’ Her daughter hangs up before there’s an argument.

She turns back to him. ‘Why have you come now?’ she asks.

‘So you do remember.’

She opens the box, and stares at the silver key inside.

‘But aren’t you too young to have been there?’ The memories are so deep it aches. Then it hits her. Maria’s little brother. It used to be funny when he’d hang around them. She puts the key on her open palm as if weighing it. But if he’s here now, then… ‘Where’s Maria?’ she asks. She has a sick feeling that she knows the answer, and isn’t surprised when he shakes his head, gestures towards the key.

‘I don’t want it now.’ She’s not that stupid girl any more, thank god, so he’s wrong. It will bite. Hard.

He shrugs. ‘It’s your turn.’

In her head, she hears herself agree, she hears herself move towards him, she holds his hand. In her head, everything is clear: there is no kitchen, there are no children, no overdue library books, no house, no car. Her breathing slows, crawls, the air moving in and out, she feels each small inhalation as even time waits. ‘Now,’ he's saying to her, ‘right now,’ and the silver key is in her hand, the silver key that she had not remembered she was supposed to remember. ‘Do it!’ says this man off to one side, out of the corner of her eye. ‘Your turn, your turn...’ and in her head she knows that he is right, the only right thing in her pale and miserable life.

It is three months to the day since the accident. It feels like three hours. Each day as she wakes, the memory of it arrives like a hammer blow to her head. He won’t be downstairs, shovelling muesli into his mouth and rapping – badly – with his earphones in.

Yet there are days when she can almost trick her brain.

Katie has said they should clear out his things together. She said it again this morning when she found her in his room with her face buried in his T-shirt. It was bucketing down outside, but her twelve-year-old daughter, his little sister, marched across the room and heaved up the sash. ‘It stinks in here.’

The key is hot in her palm. ‘Maria... that night... She said it was a game. A party game. Like Truth or Dare, or...’

‘Consequences?’ His smile is courteous, patient even, but his eyes are hard.

She hesitates. She feels wrong footed and cross; her mind cloudy from his interruption, a lack of sleep, a mother’s grief. She thinks that there have been enough consequences for hedonistic teenage behaviour lately. Enough bad effects caused by misjudged booze-fuelled games. She buries the key inside its redwood coffin, pushes it back across the table and glares at him: ‘I can’t just leave.
I can’t just drop everything.’

He is still smiling at her. He does not move.

The day was just yawning into existence as they disembarked. On shore the walk is exactly as she remembers – the same narrow island path, the same parched shrubs, the same toothy boulders hiding the same heavy door. It is here that he passes her the small silver key, gives her shoulder that insistent nudge. It is here that she takes her turn.

And this is what it must feel like to die; to see your life rewind. Here she is, transplanted back into a moment that made the world turn differently. She takes the drink from the man. It is not a difficult decision. She simply says ‘yes’ to an elixir for grief, something to colour this pale and miserable life.
She sees the look on the man’s face; it is the same as it was back then, when he was a boy. There is outward encouragement and bonhomie, but it cannot mask the disgust, the fear. She is just like Maria, she is giving in. She is choosing this above everything else. Soon all thoughts of overdue library books and a child who doesn’t want to come home and a child who will never come home and the blame, soon they will be diluted. Soon, they will disappear.

She twists; she ducks away beneath his arm.

"No!" He turns, slips on the seaweed-slick stone and falls. She kneels. With her free hand she pinches his nose – years of getting the children to take their medicine – and pours. He spits, swallows; his eyes dilate. He says, “What –” and stops.

On the way home, she unwinds the car window and hurls the silver key into the roadside ditch. The wind whips it away. In the back-seat, he's sleeping, lulled like a baby by the engine vibrations. She leaves him in the emergency room, blinking uncertainly. She will not feel guilt.

She sits in her son's bedroom and cries. She remembers the moment his fingers stilled, the nurse touching her shoulder and squeezing. The room smells like nothing she wants; Katie was right. The evening thickens and she sits and remembers as rain drums through the open window and onto the wooden floor. She will remember: that's her consequence.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fringe magazine calls The Short Review "juicy"!

A lovely write-up on the excellent Fringe magazine's blog today, and a mini-interview with me about how The Short Review came about. Here's an excerpt:
Finding short fiction worth reading is no easy task for the average reader; outside of the annual Houghton Mifflin Best American Short Stories anthology, the publishing world gives readers little direction as to where to find the best contemporary short fiction. The Short Review, an online literary review magazine and blog, seeks to fill this gap.

The Short Review is more an online journal than blog. Each monthly issue reviews ten short story collections, and interviews the authors if possible.  Collections may be new, older, or classic. Reviewers are short fiction writers themselves. The reviews are lengthy and rife with juicy excerpts and thoughtful impressions. 
Read the rest of the blog post here...

Monday, September 6, 2010

UK National Short Story Week - what's it about?

The UK is to have a National Short Story Week for the first time this year, and  TSR asked its founder and director, Ian Skillicorn, what it's all about and what his wildest dreams for NSSW look like!

The Short Review: Tell us a bit about yourself and your team.

Ian Skillicorn: I have been involved in writing and producing for most of my working life, having started my career in Italy in the early 90s. In 2006 I set up Short Story Radio to promote the short story form and short story writers. We broadcast audio short stories via the website and our podcast and we have tens of thousands of listeners from around the world. I also produce marketing podcasts for authors and give talks on writing for audio.

When I had the idea for National Short Story Week I approached a number of people to form a steering group for the week. The role of the steering group is to provide advice and support, and to help promote National Short Story Week. The members of the steering group are all people I have worked with. They are professionals whose talents and opinions I respect, and I know that each of them is passionate about the short story form. Lisa Armytage is an actor with over 30 years experience in film, TV, radio and theatre. She has narrated short stories for radio, and also writes short stories. Jane Bidder writes novels and short stories under the pen name Sophie King and also teaches creative writing. Robert Kirkwood is the producer/presenter of the Talking Books programme on Insight Radio (RNIB). Sue Moorcroft is a writer of novels and short stories as well as non-fiction. Pat Richardson was Fiction Editor at Best magazine for over 16 years and now runs her own writing and editing consultancy. Bogdan Tiganov is a talented young writer who is in the process of setting up an independent publishing venture.

TSR: Where did the idea for NSSW come from? Is it inspired by something else happening around the world?

IS: During the time that I have been producing audio short stories I have met and worked with hundreds of writers from around the UK and overseas. The short story form is very popular among writers, especially within writers' groups, but time and again I have heard from writers about how few opportunities there are to find a commercial outlet for short fiction. However, I believe there is a market for short stories - my own experience of Short Story Radio has taught me that. A national awareness week seemed like the ideal way to connect short story writers with potential readers and listeners. I'm not aware of a similar short story event anywhere else, but of course there are already high profile and successful literary events in the UK such as World Book Day, National Poetry Day and National Storytelling Week. I think a week is the ideal length for an awareness campaign of this nature, as it gives organisers the chance to reach participants over a number of days, and participants the opportunity to attend more than one event.

TSR: What is the essence of NSSW? What will be happening?

IS: From the outset the intention was for National Short Story Week to be a grass roots initiative. My role, and that of the steering group, is to promote the existence of National Short Story Week to the public and interested parties. People and groups around the country are then free to organise an event that best suits them. I've recently heard from a number of people who have already organised events. These events include a short story display in a city library; a talk to a writing group by an award winning short story writer; a reading group which, in November, will choose and discuss a short story anthology instead of a novel; an open mic short story event and two short story collections especially commissioned to celebrate National Short Story Week.

On the website we have lots of ideas for how National Short Story Week can be celebrated - depending on whether you are a writer, reader/listener, publisher, library or bookshop. See the ideas here.

TSR: What would the best NSSW look like in your wildest dreams?

IS: My hope is that National Short Story Week will meet its aims, which are to get more people writing, reading and listening to short stories, and to create creative and commercial opportunities for people and organisations involved in the short story form. I don't want to think in terms of wildest dreams as that sounds to me like something that is unlikely to happen, and I believe that the aims of the week are achievable. This will be the UK's first National Short Story Week, so all those aims may not be reached in 2010, but we will have started the ball rolling!

I hope that people all over the UK, of all ages and backgrounds, will get involved in the week - readers and listeners will discover writers and writing that they otherwise wouldn't have known about; writers will find new outlets and enthusiasm for their work (which in turn will be fulfilling, motivating and perhaps even make them some money!) and more people will consider reading or listening to short stories on a regular basis.

Reaction to the idea of a National Short Story Week has certainly been extremely positive and I really think this could become an enjoyable and beneficial event in the literary calendar. It's great to see that people have already started to organise events, even though the week is not for another three months. But now is the time to get organising and promoting events - and the National Short Story Week online calendar can help with that.

TSR: What's the best way for short story lovers to get their non-short-story-loving friends intitated into the joys of short fiction?

There are lots of ways to introduce your friends to the joys of the short story. If you are considering buying a novel as a gift why not choose a short story anthology or collection instead? You can find information about the latest short story publications on the National Short Story Week website (and of course on The Short Review!). We also have a recommended reading list and some best-selling writers have contributed to the website by telling us what their favourite short story is.

Suggest to friends that they listen to a short story on Radio 4 (you can also listen via the iPlayer), or on the websites of Australia's ABC or America's NPR. Get them to download an audio short story to listen to on the way to work or during a long journey (search iTunes for free podcasts). Listening to a short story on the train could be a pleasant change from listening to music. If there is an open mic short story night near you, drag a friend along. They are often held in a pub so your friend may not need too much convincing...

TSR: What are 3 of your favourite short story collections or individual stories?

IS: My all time favourite writers of short stories are Katherine Mansfield, Truman Capote and Jean Rhys. All three were able to communicate so much in so few words, and their stories and characters stay with you long after you have finished reading - the essence of the perfect short story!

Over the past few years I have worked with a large number of talented short story writers, members of the Verulam Writers Circle spring to mind. I must also mention the work of members of our steering group - I've recorded short stories by Sue Moorcroft which have been enjoyed by listeners to radio stations all over the country, and I often buy books by Sophie King as presents for family - I have recorded some of her work too. I think Bodgan Tiganov's work deserves a larger readership and I am sure he will find it. I currently have The Ice and Other Stories by Kenneth Steven on my bedside table.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Edge Hill Winners and Frank O'Connor shortlist

It was a win for the TV writers at the 2010 Edge Hill Short Story Prize ceremony this year: Jeremy Dyson, co-creator of The League of Gentlemen, scooped the main £5000 prize for his short story collection, The Cranes that Build the Cranes. The press release said this about the collection:
"Brimming with black humour and the promise of something sinister just around the corner, the collection explores the dark depths of the human condition, offering tales of death, disaster and - just occasionally - redemption, which captured the imagination of the judges"
 Congratulations to Jeremy, who said:
"...if you have it in your heart then write short stories and make sure you get them out there, enter competitions, send to magazines and make sure people read them....I'd just like to thank Edge Hill for running this award, it is hugely important and highlights that the short story is publishable and it is popular. It is the oldest form of writing and I hope that people recognise and celebrate this."
 The Short Review echoes that! And congrats too to Short Review author Rob Shearman - well-known as a writer for Doctor Who - whose new collection, Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical, won the inaugural £1000 Readers' Prize, judged by A Level students from the North West. Said Shearman:
"To win the Readers' Prize means so much to me because it raises the profile of what the short story is all about - it is readable and fun and builds a complete world. Knowing that my collection appealed to the younger generation is also thrilling because they are the writers of our tomorrow."

And, in an exciting week for short story collections, the shortlist for the 2010 Cork City - Frank O'Connor Short Story Award has just been announced:

1. If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This (Picador UK, 2010) by Robin Black (review coming soon)

2. Mattaponi Queen (Graywolf Press, 2010) by Belle Boggs

3.Wild Child (Bloomsbury, 2010) by TC Boyle

4.The Shieling (Comma Press, 2009) by David Constantine (read our review here)

5.Burning Bright (HarperCollins, 2010) by Ron Rash

6. What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, 2009) by Laura van den Berg (read our review here)

The winner of the €35,000 award will be announced at the Frank O'Connor Short Story Festival in mid-September. Congratulations and best of luck to all!

Friday, June 25, 2010

UK National Short Story Week

It's about time! Well done to Lisa Armytage, Sophie King, Robert Kirkwood, Sue Moorcroft, Pat Richardson, and Bogdan Tiganov for not waiting til the UK government declared it but just going ahead and doing it anyway! The US may have National Short Story Month, but now at least the UK has National Short Story Week: Nov 22nd-28 2010.

What's the plan? The organisers say:

The aims of National Short Story Week are:
1) to get more people reading and listening to short stories;
2) to get more people writing short stories;
3) to develop creative and commercial opportunities for individuals and organisations involved in the short story genre.
National Short Story Week is intended to be a grass roots, "bottom up" event. The role of the publicity campaign managed by Short Story Week C.I.C. is to enable individuals and organisations to organise their own events on a national, regional or local level. 
Good for them! As I always say, it's International Short Story Day every day here at the Short Review, but I know that some people need a little bit of a nudge/shove in that direction. We'll do everything we can to support NSSW of course. Roll on, November!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Short Story Month

May was declared National Short Story Month in the US by Dan Wickett of the Emerging Writers Network a few years ago, and, wonderfully, others have followed his lead. Doesn't matter whether you are US-based, here's a great excuse to celebrate the short story even more than we do already! A few links to get you started:

Emerging Writers Network - reviews and discussions of short stories

Fiction Writers Review - a giveaway in honour of SSM!

Canada's National Post's Short Story Month  - Q&As with writers

BookFox's Short Story Month posts - excellent short story discussions

NextRead - reviews of short story collections for Short Story Month

SeattlePI - article about SSM

Reading the Short Story - blog discussing short stories

Let me know if you've got another link for me to add...

And if that's not enough - just check out all the short story collections and author interviews we've amassed in 2 1/2 years over at The Short Review, of course!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

From digital to... vinyl??

What an interesting month for short stories! First. Ether Books announces their new iPhone app to great fanfare - " Publisher Ether Books gives short stories new lease of life on an iPhone" declares the Guardian, " Publishing venture bets on iPhone short stories" says Reuter. This is a great new initiative, let's hope it brings short stories a wide audience.

And then... Nathan Dunne steps back in time to unveil Underwood Stories - on vinyl! The Short Review thought we'd better ask him a bit more about it:

TSR: Who are you and where did the idea for Underwood come from?
ND: My name is Nathan Dunne.I live in London. I studied art history at Cambridge University and completed a PhD at Birkbeck, University of London. My non-fiction book Tarkovsky (Black Dog Publishing), about the Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, came out in 2008. About a year ago I was stranded in Bangkok airport on a flight-delay and I saw a man carrying a portable gramophone. He had a bag full of old records and would dust each one off meticulously before playing it. On seeing this I was reminded of what we've lost in the digital age - a love for the object. Rather than something that you hold in your hands, packaging has been reduced to just another image. There's nothing physical left.

I've always loved short stories and avidly listen to writers reading their work on podcasts. But somehow podcasts always leave me cold. So I had the idea of writers reading short stories onto records as a way of preserving them, as a way of creating a different way to experience stories and remember them. Records are all about the experience: you've got to lay them down on the turntable, drop the needle and then change the side when it’s done. This attention to detail is what I'd love to see happen to the short story. Sitting around in a group and listening to the perfect crisp-crackle of a record simply doesn't compare to a CD or mp3.

TSR: Why short stories? What, to you, makes a great short story?
ND: Short stories create an entirely different world to a novel or novella. They offer up unique opportunities for narrative and constrain character development within a limited setting or wordcount. This is extremely exciting because it is so hard to get right. However, when the writer does succeed in creating a powerful story the experience brings a tide of pleasure so rarely felt. Short stories are also perfect for the medium of vinyl. When read aloud they are short enough to fit on a single side of a record and having a physical object creates a sense of occasion when listening rather than an audiobook simply popping up amid the shuffle on your iPod. The point of a record is that it is a combination of unique sound and beautiful packaging. It makes you slow down, sit back and pay attention to the words. Writers deserve that and the short story as a form deserves that. For me a great short story is one that reveals how surreal and absurd everyday life can be. 

TSR: In this age of iPods and digital everything vinyl records are beautiful but are you really expecting people to be able to play them? Is it easy to get them made these days?

ND: While the world is digital there are more records being produced now than ever before. Major record companies have begun to re-release classic albums on vinyl and new bands are increasingly producing vinyl records in addition to CDs. If you don't believe me go into any HMV and look at the large vinyl section on offer. This is only a recent development which has grown up in the last couple of years. The reason for this, as I understand it, is that with the ease of downloading people are hungry to broaden the way music relates to their lives. In the past bands were always associated with their album artwork and much of that identity has been weakened with digital. Although you may be able to download an image of an album cover the experience of leafing through liner notes and squinting at blurry photographs just isn't the same without the physical object. It is very easy to get records made today. In the UK more than half a dozen production plants produce records while in Europe there are many more.

TSR: You are planning 2 records a year, will you be open to submissions?

ND: Yes we are open to submissions. We are looking to pair writers up together with one on each side of the record. This way both stories will make sense together and we can commission artwork that reflects this.

TSR: What are the last three short story collections you read?

ND: Walk the Blue Fields by Claire Keegan
Tales of Belkin by Pushkin
On the Edge of the Cliff by V.S. Pritchett

Thanks, Nathan. Underwood Books is launching its first issue on May 19th in London, featuring stories by Toby Litt and Short Review author Clare Wigfall. Much luck to the vinyl-peddlers and the iPhone app!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cork City - Frank O’Connor Short Story Award Longlist

Here's the longlist of short story collections for the 2010 Cork City - Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, now in its sixth year. Say the organisers:
"The longlist is almost evenly split between women and men this year with 28 men and 26 women. The strength of the short story in the United States is reflected by that country’s overwhelming number of 21 longlistees. This year is also noted for a surge of entries from Asia, accounting for one fifth of all titles. There are three Irish nominees this year including Nuala Ni Chonchuir, the first author to be longlisted for the third time."

Congratulations indeed to Nuala, who is a Short Review reviewer as well as a reviewee! We have reviewed a number of these collections already, links provided. The shortlist will be announced on July 6th.

Temsula Ao (India)


Richard Bausch (USA)
Something is out there: Stories by Richard Bausch

Alfred A. Knopf
Martin Bax (UK)
Memoirs of a Gone World

Pinckney Benedict (USA)
Miracle Boy and Other Stories

Press 53
Louis de Bernières (UK)


Harvill Secker
Belle Boggs (USA)
Mattaponi Queen: stories

Graywolf Press
T.C. Boyle (USA)

Wild Child

O Thiam Chin (Singapore)

Never Been Better

MPH  Publishing

Kunzang Choden (Bhutan)
Tales in Colour and Other Stories

Zubaan – Penguin
Craig Cliff
(New Zealand)
A Man Melting

Vintage – Random House

Venita Coelho (India)
The Washer of the Dead

Zubaan – Penguin
Nuala Ní Chonchúir (Ireland)

David Constantine (UK)

Jameson Currier (USA)
The Haunted Heart and Other Tales

Lethe Press
Brian Joseph Davies (Canada)
Ronald Reagan, My Father

ECW Press
Deyan Enev (Bulgaria)

Circus Bulgaria
Portobello Books

Anne Finger (USA)
Call The Ahab
University of Nebraska Press

Patrick Gale (UK)

Gentleman’s Relish
Angelica Garnett (UK)
The Unspoken Truth
Chatto and Windus – Random House

Holly Goddard Jones (USA)

Girl Trouble
Harper Perennial

Perry Glasser (USA)

Dangerous Places
BkMk Press

Alyson Hagy (USA)

Ghosts of Wyoming
Graywolf Press

Dhruba Hazarika (India)


Mark Illis (UK)

Barb Johnson (USA)
More of This World or Maybe Another
Harper Perennial *review coming soon*

Lorraine M. López (USA)
Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories

BkMk Press, *review coming soon*

Thomas Lynch (USA)
Apparition and Late Fictions: a novella and stories

Jonathan Cape – Random House *review coming soon*

Paul Magrs (UK)

Twelve Stories

Salt *review coming soon*

Martin Malone (Ireland)
The Mango War: and other stories

New Island
Owen Marshall
(New Zealand)
Living as a Moon
Vintage – Random House

Donal McLaughlin
(Northern Ireland)
An Allergic Reaction to National Anthems

Argyll Publishing
Lori Ostlund (USA)

The Bigness of the world

University of Georgia Press
Manoj  Kumar Panda (India)
The Bone Garden and Other Stories

Wena Poon (Singapore)
The Proper Care of Foxes

Ethos Books
Dawn Raffel (USA)
Further Adventures in the Restless Universe

Dzanc Books
Mahmud Rahman (Bangladesh)

Killing the Water

Ron Rash (USA)
Burning Bright

Ecco; Harper Collins

Peter Robinson (UK)
The Price Of Love: And Other Stories

McClelland and Stewart
Anne Sanow (USA)
Triple Time
Pittsburgh University Press

Sarah Selecky (Canada)
This Cake Is for the Party

Thomas Allen Publishers
Bubul Sharma (India)
Eating Women, Telling Tales: Stories about Food

Zubaan - Penguin
Robert Shearman (UK)

Love songs for the shy and cynical

Sam Sheppard (USA)

Day out of Days
Alfred A. Knopf

Anis Shivani (USA)
Anatolia and Other Stories
Black Lawrence Press

Louise Stern (USA)

Chattering: Stories

Kalpana Swaminathan (India)

Venus Crossing
Justin Taylor (USA)
Everything here is the best thing ever

Harper Perennial
Ruth Thomas (UK)

Super Girl
Faber and Faber

Laura van den Berg (USA)
What the world will look like when all the water leaves us

Dzanc Books *review coming soon*
David T. K. Wong (China)
Chinese Stories in Times of Change

Asian Stories - Muse
Tiphanie Yanique
(US Virgin Islands)

How To Escape From A Leper Colony
Graywolf Press

Michele Roberts (UK)
Mud: Stories of Sex and Love

Little Brown
Helen Simpson (UK)
In-Flight Entertainment

Billie Livingston (Canada)
Greedy Little Eyes
Random House Canada

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Edge Hill Short Story Prize Longlist Announced

The Edge Hill Short Story Prize, now in its third year, is the UK's only literary award that recognises a published collection of short stories, and this year they have announced a longlist of 18 titles, which will be whittled down to a shortlist.  Ailsa Cox, the organizer of the prize, gave us a sneak peak behind the scenes last year here on the blog and Chris Beckett, last year's winner and one of this year's judges, talked about his relationship with UK magazine Interzone here.

The longlist of 18 contains 9 authors we've reviewed, so click on the links to find out more about what TSR's reviewers thought. Good luck to all!
  • Regi Claire - Fighting It (Two Ravens Press).
  • David Constantine - The Sheiling (Comma Press)
  • Jeremy Dyson - The Cranes that Build Cranes (Little Brown). 
  • Jane Feaver - with Love Me Tender (Random House).
  • Patrick Gale - Gentleman's Relish (Harper Collins).
  • Sian Hughes - The Beach Hut (Biscuit Publishing)
  • Mark Illis - Tender (Salt Publishing). 
  • A.L. Kennedy - What Becomes (Jonathan Cape).
  • Tom Lee - Greenfly (Harvill Secker).
  • Michael J Farrell - Life in the Universe (The Stinging Fly). 
  • Ben Moor - More Trees To Climb (Portobello). 
  • Nuala Ní Chonchúir - Nude (Salt Publishing).
  • Philip O Ceallaigh - The Pleasant Light of Day (Penguin).
  • Robert Shearman - Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical(Big Finish)
  • Charles Stross - Wireless (Little Brown).
  • Craig Taylor - One Million Tiny Plays About Britain (Bloomsbury).
  • Douglas Thompson - Ultrameta (Eibonvale Press).
  • Simon Van Booy - Love Begins in Winter (Beautiful Books).

Friday, March 19, 2010

Short Lit Bits March

  • Short-stories-on-film #1: Electric Literature has released a new video, for Matt Sumell’s story, Little Things, animated by Vance Reeser. Sumell is the first "emerging" writer to feature in EL alongside the big names.
  • Going the self-publishing route #1: "Two-time PEN/Faulkner winner and National Book Award finalist ...John Edgar Wideman will be releasing his latest collection of short stories via Lulu, a self-publishing company that releases submitted work either as an e-book or printed-on-demand. Briefs: Stories for the Palm of the Mind, available starting March 14, will be one of few works from an already established author to bypass the mainstream industry entirely..." says The New Podler Review of Books.
  • Couldn't-they-find-real-short-story-writers? #1: "Leading British novelists have created short stories to accompany portraits of unidentified Elizabethan courtiers, musicians, soldiers and writers for a new exhibition at Montacute House nr Yeovil in Somerset for the National Portrait Gallery" says the Telegraph.
  • Good news for short stories#1: "The Atlantic Renews Commitment to Short Stories...  The Atlantic is going to start publishing fiction again. So no more of those newstand-only summer fiction issues (which were good, though, especially the 2008 one that highlighted emerging authors). Instead, a supplement will accompany the May issue that will include half a dozen short stories and -- obligatory for all American magazines, for every single issue -- an essay from the ubiquitous Joyce Carol Oates." More here from BookFox.

    Congratulations #3: To Alberta author Stuart Ross, whose short story collection, Buying Cigarettes for the Dog, is shortlisted for the Alberta Readers' Choice awards, says the Northumberland News.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Scott Prize Winners

Salt Publishing have announced  the winners of their inaugural Scott Prize for Short Fiction. Congratulations to
the four authors whose debut short story collections will be published later this year:

Patrick Holland (Australia): The Source of Sound
David Mullins (US): Longing to Love You
Susannah Rickards (UK): Hot Kitchen Snow
Tom Vowler (UK): They May Not Mean To But They Do

The shortlist:
Ben Cheetham: The Hate Club (UK)
Alexandra Fox: Roundabouts (UK)
Miriam Hastings: Demon Lovers (UK)
Patrick Holland: The Source of Sound (Australia)
Sandra Jensen: A Sort of Walking Miracle (Ireland)
Laurence Klavan: Family Unit and Other Fantasies (US)
Wes Lee: This Animal Kingdom and Other Stories (NZ)
Mary McCluskey: Gift to the Dark Gods (UK)
David Philip Mullins: Longing to Love You (US)
Susannah Richards: Hot Kitchen Snow and Other Stories (UK)
Tom Vowler: They May Not Mean To But They Do (UK)
Joel Willians: Buy Ma Biscuits or Kiss Ma Fish (UK)

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    Sunday Times Short Story Prize Longlist

    The first annual Sunday Times short story competition, at £25,000 for a single story now the most lucrative prize in the world for writers published in the UK, has announced its longlist, with several Short Review authors featured. Good luck to all!

    Here's the full list:

    • Richard Beard - James Joyce, EFL Teacher
    • Nicholas Best - Souvenir
    • Sylvia Brownrigg - Jocasta
    • John Burnside - Slut's Hair
    • Will Cohu - Nothing But Grass
    • Joe Dunthorne - Critical Responses To My Last Relationship
    Petina Gappah - An Elegy for Easterly
    • Jackie Kay - Reality, Reality
    A.L. Kennedy - Saturday Teatime
    Adam Marek - Fewer Things
    • Charles Mosley - Constraint
    • Chris Paling - The Red Car
    • Ron Rash - Burning Bright
    • Simon Robson - Will There Be Lions?
    Kay Sexton - Anubis and the Volcano
    • Helen Simpson - Diary of an Interesting Year
    • C.K. Stead - Last Season's Man
    • Rose Tremain - The Jester of Astapovo
    • Gerard Woodward - Legoland
    • David Vann - It's Not Yours

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    Short Lit Bits Jan/Feb

    Entertaining tidbits from the world of short fiction..
    • In Memoriam #1: JD Salinger dies aged 91. "His stories presented readers with an utterly  natural, strange and often disturbing landscape. Few writers since have come close to capturing the narrative completeness Salinger achieved. Nothing is out of place, in other words. " True/Slant. As a tribute, The New Yorker publishes 12 of his stories from back issues.
    • Great short story quote #1: "Short stories seem so harmless. What are they even about? People who have a hard time talking to other people, usually. But great ones — the ones that don't just reflect life but actually conjure it in full force — can mess up your head and heart. "  Entertainment Weekly on Amy Bloom.
    • Get 'em for free#1: is offering customers a free Ian McEwan short story as an e-book ahead of the release of his latest novel. Loyalty cardholders can download part one of Psychopolis from the retailer's website. The story was originally published in McEwan's short story collection In Between the Sheets and is about a lovestruck Englishman living in Los Angeles.

    • Great short story quote #2: "Short stories, she says, "are a great form. Not as people often think — little chips or a string of anecdotes — they have breadth and depth and are difficult to write. They're very demanding and very different from a novel, with its endless darkness, endless climb." Amy Bloom on short stories, Hartford Courant
    • Congrats #1: Penn State University English and creative writing professor Eugene Cross has won the annual $5,000 Dzanc Prize from Dzanc Books. The award supports both his creative writing and his efforts to build a series of creative workshops for refugees from Nepal, Sudan and Bhutan living in his hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania.  Alongside his workshops, Cross hopes to complete his short story collection, "Fires of Our Choosing."  Dzanc Prize
    • Short story rage: "Today I was asked if I would write a short short story. It would be part of a Fringe Festival – dread words – and would go up on some walls in an exhibition of similar short short stories, but without my name attached to it.  .. in the mad world of those with well-meaning but lunatic desires for egalitarianism in absolutely everything my fifty years writing 43 books, learning my trade and re-learning it, practising my craft, hoping to improve, reading the best to learn from them,  putting out words in a careful order every day of my life, working with the talent I was given by God - none of that matters a jot...." Susan Hill in the Spectator.
    • Who knew? #1: "F.X. Toole, a cut man who became a literary sensation at the age of 70 with the short stories that inspired the Oscar-winning movie MILLION DOLLAR BABY, has been named the winner of the Boxing Writers Association of America’s 2010 A.J. Liebling Award...The acclaim for Toole’s gritty, evocative short story collection ROPE BURNS served as the final reward for a knockaround guy who spent so much of his life as an unpublished — and frustrated — writer. " Boxing Blog.
    • Celeb endorsements #1: "Timothy Hutton - Literary Sex god... Hutton has recently tweeted his affinity for Deborah Eisenberg’s short-story collection, Twilight of the Superheroes." ChristianKaneFan Blog
    • Musicians jump on short stories bandwagon #1: "Israeli death metallers SALEM have revealed the album artwork and final tracklisting on the group’s upcoming seventh full-length album entitled “Playing God And Other Short Stories.”" 
    • Musicians jump on short stories bandwagon #2: "Keyboardist Franz Nicolay Leaves The Hold Steady...This will presumably open up his schedule to more solo material, like his 2009 album Major General and his upcoming short story collection Complicated Gardening Techniques". Prefix mag 
    • We heartily agree #1: "Let’s Declare the 2010s the Decade of the Short Story...According to The Guardian, 2009 was the year of the short story. I’m going to have to agree with them. After all, Oprah chose a short story collection for her book club for the very first time, Alice Munro won the Man Booker International, Elizabeth Strout’s short story collection was awarded the Pulitzer, and great short story collections were published. One Story’s subscriptions are higher than ever, which surprised us–after all, the economy is forcing all of us to tighten our wallets." Save the Short Story 
    • We'd love to read this if we had a translator #1: "Multi-awarded writer and winner of the Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature (Short Story in Hiligaynon) Prof. Alice Tan-Gonzales launched her [collection] entitled “Sa Taguangkan sang Duta kag Iban Pa nga Sugilanon (In the Womb of the Earth and Other Stories)” at the UPV Art Gallery on December 4, 2009 at UPV Iloilo City Campus.The collection of short stories is, according to Prof. Gonzales, her answer to the demoralizing opinion expressed by some from the metropolitan center that writing in the regional languages is dying . It is her hope that this small collection would impel a rush of literary activity and publication among talented Hiligaynon writers in the region, some of whom, she said, are hiding in the shadows of “unpublishedness” and anonymity. The News Today 
    • Short stories save the economy and up your street cred #1: "In these trying times of economic uncertainty, many of us are looking for ways to maximise efficiency and return on investment, while minimising risk and limiting the possibility of failure....Fear not, intrepid investors!  The library has the perfect solution – Short Stories.  That’s right, audience, you heard me.  For decades regarded as the poor cousin of ‘real books’, these polished little beauties offer all the excitement and intrigue of a novel, but with so many added advantages......They sound posh.  Literary, even.  “What are you reading?”  “Oh, this?  It’s just a little collection of short stories by one of my favourite authors.”  “Ooohh, posh!”" Christchurch City Libraries Blog
    • What a Shame #1: "Cardiff-based author Jo Verity won the Richard and Judy Short Story award in 2003 with The Bells, a year before they launched their wider book club....As a result of the exposure, Welsh publisher Honno bought her first novel, but she says she was surprised by the lack of attention following her Richard and Judy success. “After winning, I thought that people would beat a path to my door, but there was absolutely nothing,” Verity recalls. “I think it was because no one wants to read short stories.”" WalesOnline 
    • A Rare Find #1: "Occasionally from the nation's cultural attic come rare finds, like this wondrous new collection of Kurt Vonnegut short stories. This collection holds 14 previously unpublished short stories written after World War II when Vonnegut was back home after witnessing the firebombing of Dresden as a prisoner of war." Post Gazette 
    • Congrats #2: "Kalamazoo author Bonnie Jo Campbell has garnered another honor for her short story collection “American Salvage.” On Saturday, she was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction" Kalamazoo Living 
    • Great short story quote #3: "If you are feeling particularly ants-in-your-pants-y, and don’t have much time to read, grab a short story collection and put your 20 minute attention span to good use. That episode of Dancing with the Stars can wait." Tulsa Library Blog 
      • Great short story quote #4: "Last night at dinner, my friend Scott explained to someone, "Becky writes short stories--short stories are to the point, but you don't always know what the point *is*." Such a good summation of the strengths and weaknesses of stories." Rose-coloured: Talking Stories blog.
      • Happy 150th, Chekhov! #1: "ANTON CHEKHOV once told a friend that he expected to be forgotten within seven years of his death. He could not have been more wrong. Whenever the art of the short story is discussed his is the name most often mentioned." Irish Times
      • Starting young #1 "Adora Svitak, 12, describes herself as an "educator, poet and humanitarian." After publishing her first book of short stories, "Flying Fingers", at age seven, she dedicated all profits from sales in China to a Tibetan orphanage and raised $30,000 to help children threatened by massive floods in Vietnam in 2007. Now, Svitak is attempting to raise $10,000 for Save the Children's relief efforts in Haiti through her Twitter account". Huffington Post.
      • Musicians jump on short stories bandwagon #3 & Short Review Authors #1: "Singer-songwriter Nelly Furtado has optioned the film rights to Anthony De Sa's linked story collection, Barnacle Love [reviewd on TSR here]. The deal was arranged by Sean Daily at Hotchkiss and Associates, on behalf of The Bukowski Agency." Quill and Quire.  
      • Congrats #3 & We'd love to read this if we had a translator #2: "Short story writers have won all of the 2010 Rancage Literary Awards, which recognise outstanding literature written in local languages. The Rancage Cultural Foundation has selected this year’s award winners, given annually to Sundanese, Javanese, Balinese and Lampung literary figures for their creative excellence and dedication to preserving local literary traditions." The Jakarta Post
      •  Get 'em for free #2: "Todd Brendan Fahey, author of the novel Wisdom's Maw [Far Gone Books, 1996]--surrounding the CIA's LSD experiments, known as Project MK-ULTRA--has opted to disperse his collection of black satire, "Dogshit Park & other atrocities," freely over the Internet." 
      • Happy 150th, Chekhov! #2: "his stories are full of people who espouse views very similar to the above – enlightened misfits, philanthropic gentry, civilised professionals (often doctors like himself) holding a candle for reason, justice and all the rest. But the stories themselves invariably subject this posture to challenges that cast doubt over its relevance, even its basic validity, so that to pin down an authorial point of view becomes impossible." The Guardian
      • No Age Limit #1: "The Bookbite survey of 1,162 people over 60 suggested they were increasingly confident with the internet and they were using it to find information about an older medium - books. More than 55% said the internet was a crucial part of their lives, while 31% were keen to go online to publish short stories and join book clubs." BBC News

      • Short stories on film #1: "a short story by British author Eleanor Farjeon, is being adapted into a Japanese/Korean animation feature film. The Union Cho animation studio plans to release The Moon - Tsuki ga Hoshii to Ōjo-sama ga Naita comical fairy-tale fantasy in Spring of 2011. Farjeon first published the original story in The Little Bookroom, the 1955 short story collection that earned the author the first Hans Christian Andersen Award and the Carnegie Medal." Anime News Network 
      • Happy 150th Birthday, Chekhov! #3: "As worldwide celebrations marking the 150th birthday celebrations of Russian playwright Anton Chekhov continue, a CD of some of his most renowned works is being launched. Short Stories by Anton Chekhov Bk.2, narrated by Russian-born actor Max Bollinger, features the dramatic stories Anyuta; The Helpmate; Ivan Matveyitch; Polinka; and Talent. Featuring music from Pytor Tchaikovsky, the stories are based on the original translations by Constance Clara Garnett, a 19th century expert of Russian literature, and are produced by Interactive Media." Pressport 
      • Who knew? #1: "Everyone pretty much assumed John Hughes didn’t quit writing when he quit Hollywood, and eventually some archive would burst open with nearly 20 years of stockpiled Hughesian goodies. But good luck finding anyone outside the late filmmaker’s inner circle who knew he’d been publishing in our midst all along — not as John Hughes, alas, but as the pseudonymous, prolific short-story craftsman JL Hudson. Like, really short. But also, as a few newly published samples prove, pretty damned excellent." Movieline
      • Congrats #3 & Short Review Authors #2: "Daniyal Mueenuddin's In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, which we reviewed here, is a finalist for the National Book Award.  
      • What David Sedaris Read this Year #1: "ometimes, I do sit down and read with my eyes. This year, I came across several short-story collections I exceptionally love,....My four favorite collections, arranged alphabetically, were: “Irish Girl,” by Tim Johnston, “Too Much Happiness,” by Alice Munro, “Do Not Deny Me” by Jean Thompson, “Everything Ravaged Everything Burned,” by Wells Tower"." New Yorker Book Bench