August, September, October AND November Round Up
Like assembling superheroes, the last three months have all lined up, only to be knocked off by the recurring super-villain-baddy Time. August? CRUSH! September? THWACK! October? KERDUGGERDUGGERDUGGER! Now November has stepped up to try its luck. How will it fare? It only has twenty one days to save itself…
But November does have moustaches in its favour. Yes, this year I am taking part in November’s alter ego month Movember, which basically means I am growing a moustache. If you would like to see how I am getting on, please feel free to check my ‘Mo Space’ page. Many thanks to everyone who has sponsored me for this so far.
In recent months, the books I’ve read that stick most emphatically in my memory have all been fairly short, fairly odd little stories, presented in interesting ways. In The Black Project, Gareth Brookes utilises needlecraft and linocut to decorate a story of teenage obsession, his resourcefulness and creativity reflecting the same attributes the protaganist displays in constructing his own girlfriends and hiding the evidence.
Griffin & Sabine, by Nick Bantock, was a present from our friends Helen and Marcus (hello if you’re reading) and is a beautifully illustrated correspondence between an artist and a woman who lives on the other side of the world. It’s about people finding one another in extraordinary ways, and alleviating their loneliness without meeting. To tell you any more would be to give too much away, and would spoil for you the pleasure of this charming book.
Joff Winterhart’s Days Of The Bagnold Summer is a touching comic about a heavy metal-loving teenager spending a summer at home with his librarian mother. Its strength are in tiny movements, looks, words out of place. Nothing much happens whilst everything happens.
On my current reading pile are two short story collections – this year’s Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology and Short Fiction, a journal put together by Plymouth University. These are publications based on competitions to which I submitted work this year, without any success. After my success in the Bristol Prize last year, this year has been more disappointing as none of my entries have brought home the bacon. That’s ok though, I’m enjoying reading the stuff that did succeed, and there’s always next year.
I didn’t submit work to this, but I would also like to recommend the latest issue of Nottingham University’s Jon McGregor-powered, correspondence-based journal The Letters Page, which can be downloaded from their webpage now and is always a bit of a treat.
If you want to write stories I think it is vital to keep filling your head with new ideas, new perspectives, new possibilities. A few weeks ago, attracted by a bright cover and the word Imagination in bold letters, I picked up a copy of New Scientist for the first time. What I found was mind-blowing stuff on pretty much every page, a sense of wonder and a little humour. Here a story about a micophone the size of a molecule, there something about elastic ceramics, everywhere something mind boggling and wonderful. I’m not rushing off to write stories about these very things, but they spark ideas and stretch my brain in a different way, make me use cells I’d neglected, which must be a good thing.
Maybe some stories will find their way out of it before November crumbles. If not, there’s always December…