Sunday, December 06, 2009

Interlude Reading

In between novels (reading, not writing), and not sure what I fancied next, knowing that I'm on planes and in hotels next week, I remembered the 2 short story stocking fillers I'd recently got from Nicholas Royle's handsome Nightjar press. A single story, in a handsome limited edition, for £3 each, they're lovely artefacts, and yet another example of how small and new publishers are trying new things. I enjoyed both stories, by Michael Marshall Smith and Tom Fletcher, and as you'd perhaps expect from serial anthologist and MMU lecturer Royle, they're squarely in the realm of modern gothic. As someone whose favourite book as a teenager was Harlan Ellison's remarkable "Shatterday" collection, I'm becoming convinced that the best contemporary British writing owes more to the Moorcock, Ellison, Blish and Ballard than to the more mainstream sixties and seventies fiction. Fletcher's The Safe Children is a condensed gem, beautifully poised, and both economical with detail - as only a short story can be - and with enough background to make you treasure every word. Smith's What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night is a great concept, and has a similar sense of existential dread, but perhaps doesn't quite nail the concept as well as some of his other stories. With a new story in the series due in the spring from the prolific Joel Lane, I'll look forward to these interludes, between more substantial reading.

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