Sunday, 1 March 2009

my weekend reading

So much to read, not enough time. Certainly not enough time to write about it.

This week I have finished Tania Hershman's wonderful collection The White Road and Other Stories. I have been slowly savouring it over the past two weeks. I love the way she take stories from The New Scientist and explores them in fiction, in a way even the a non-science person can understand. Many of these stories are about strong women, determined women who through their losses - whether these be a husband, their eyesight, their memory, or a pair of Bergdof shoes - find new freedoms. There is surprise, a disturbing edge, and a touch of fairytale in these stories.

Beautifully written, I was most drawn to the short shorts in the collection. Heavy Bones is just beautiful, and made me smile. I am a camera is achingly sad. Mugs is just gorgeous, I love the end image of a couple standing in a back street amongst shards of pottery. And then there is Plaits which I adore. 'My knees said, Marry him. Don't turn round, just decide'.Tania's short shorts capture brief moments that resonate with a lifetime of meaning.

I have also been reading Patricia Debney's collection of prose poemsHow to be a Dragonfly. Anyone who knows me, will be well aware that I'm completely smitten with prose poetry and short shorts. How to be a Dragonfly has been waiting on my bookshelf for a long time, saved for a rainy day perhaps. It was such a delight to read. For a start I love the way these poems sit on the page, a small delightful amount of words surrounded by white space. Then, these prose poems with their intense focus on how human emotion and experience can be explored as a dragonfly, Occam's Razor, a wild orchid, a Japanese beetle or Honeysuckle, for instance.

'Your mother, always in the sun, has died and come back to life who knows how many times, her frugal sweet smelling blooms a constant echo of fuller days' (Honeysuckle

I feel as though I skim-read through the poems, even though I paid attention to each one. Such is the depth in them, I want to give them time to sink in, read them in different lights, experience them grow in me.

Then, Absent Kisses by Frances Gapper skipped to the top of reading pile this week. I read Slippery her short short in Cella's Round Trip last week, and decided to order a copy of Absent Kisses for a bargain 1p from amazon. It arrived almost immediately with a short hand-written note from Frances herself saying 'I hope you like it!' It has taken me an afternoon and a morning to devour it, not able to stop turning the pages, immersing myself in her stories. They are magical, quirky, crazy, disturbing, sad, funny. There are stories about: the relationship between a woman and her lawnmower; a quirky exploration of identity in Pink and Blue; a couple who need to go to marriage guidance on their honeymoon; a mermaid who discovers the joys of mobile phones; a woman who falls in love with her boss who is actually a slug;and stories from the points of view of slugs, seagulls, soon-to-be vampires and she-wolves. Friendship and love, is explored in all its incarnations: heady, obsessive, dangerous, boring, tender, romantic. It is a collection mostly about women, women in love with women, women hating women or men, men who are actually women and it is beautifully written, so real, even the fairytale elements seem real. Magical in a most down-to-earth way.

Absent Kisses has a good 200 pages of brilliant short stories, a complete bargain at 1p plus p&p (go to Amazon if you don't believe me).

So, what's next on my list... more short fiction of course and a little bite of poetry: Edgar Keret, Charles Lambert, Peter Hobbs, a collection of Chinese short shorts, and a lovely free book from Bluechrome that I won in their free book friday...


Tania Hershman said...

Thank you for your lovely words about my stories, Annie, so glad you enjoyed the book. And isn't Absent Kisses fabulous!! I loved it. I am not a big poetry reader, but you've inspired me, I will have to get myself some of Patricia Debney's work.

Your What's Next list looks great...!

Michelle said...

Annie, I've heard so much about The White Road I shall have to get myself a copy.

How to be a Dragonfly is a beautiful title - and Absent Kisses sounds superb.