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4.0 out of 5 stars Bristol Short Story Prize Volume Two, 3 Oct 2010
By 
K. M. Knight "Kelvin M. Knight" (Cumbria, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 2 (Paperback)
There is something cosy about the stories in this anthology. This is not to say they are trite. Far from it. The twenty stories, from a melee of established and establishing writers, cover many topics, themes, places, with a fair of viewpoint characters, and some interesting styles.

There are funny stories: Rule of Thumb by Amy Shuckburgh can be described as `pinball writing'. Her glittery, ricocheting and innovative style made me want to enjoy this rather grey story again and again. Pure wizardry. The same applies to The Final Whistle by Nick Rowlinson. What a journey. What a football match. The pace is breathtaking. The style is tongue in cheek yet serious yet humorous. A big `back of the net' for the ending.

There are tear jerkers: With Thy Fire Divine by Joanne Fox. Despite the veil of surprise being easily seen through, this story is well-crafted and tugged those heart strings; how poignant - this year being the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain -that we are reminded of all those brave pilots who gave their lives so we might live in freedom. Beyond the Blackout Curtain by Elizabeth Jane is another wartime tale. This time bombings and their effects on a community are experienced from a civilian's perspective, and not from London, from Swansea. The ending is as powerful and moving as the finale in Zulu. You can hear their defiant song now. Oh those glorious Welsh singers.

There are gritty life stories: The Casket Maker by Eira Reed, despite too many adjectives and too many ands and too many he said/he asked (speech quotes and question mark are enough), is an intriguing Caribbean style journey with some astute observations, lovely place names, and a brilliant ending. That Kind of Man by Jessie Ledbetter is set in the Mid West of America and the get down and dirty feel of the story is reminiscent of Cathine Vallance's Trashin' on the Field.

There are sad stories: Second Degree by Marli Roode is a crude and depressing yet compelling view of work and life from the confines of a flat after an attempted suicide by a thirty-something female. The Woman in the White-Feathered Hat by Gemma Varnom is an elderly male's deteriorating view of life, trapped in his house, after the death of his beloved wife and the appearance of a cold, silent companion who teaches him not about his laziness but his cowardice from which there is no redemption. Lee Ferrers' Brother by Sara Browning follows the viewpoint of a young girl trapped inside herself as she imagines what it would be like to be dead. Everything is considered by this intelligent girl and gradually the root cause of her morbid fascination is revealed.

There are stories of different lands: Pictures in the Dust by Craig Hawes is an intriguing view of India through the eyes of an unseen artist who thanks Laird, the proprietor of a gallery, for his generosity by leaving him lovely sand masterpieces. Malka by Inna Gertsberg is the story of a Jewish girl experiencing America for the first time, written in a style that is most Hebrew-like.

There is even a Wild West story: Last Man Standing by John V. Breen. Remember the Alamo? A lone survivor Louis Rose does. So, too, does the nameless yet hospitable San Felipe boarding house owner. As the story unfolds, we find both were friends of William Barret Travis aka Buffalo Bill.

And a sci-fi story: End of Life Liaison by Ruth Davis. This is a particular favourite. Mainly because so much is crammed into the prescribed limit of 3000 words. Everything is kept to a bare minimum (adjectives and adverbs), without slipping into storytelling mode. So much effort must have been plied into just keeping the cold hard facts of this futuristic yet entirely believable tale. Not so much a Logan's Run as a Logan's Hobble as our elderly hero and heroine reach the Maximum Permitted Age and try to evade the Government prescribed EoL programme. The ending is excellent, leaving the reader on a cliff edge of whether they succeeded or failed. Either way, this story warrants more of the same, lordly style.

In fact all the stories in this anthology warrant more. Let's hope more of the emerging talent unearthed by the impressive collection of judges on this competition follow the successes of some of last years winners.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich, diverse talent., 13 July 2010
By 
C. King (France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 2 (Paperback)
The Bristol Prize is fast becoming one of *the* short story competitions to enter, and this anthology shows why. These stories really stand out. The writing is rich, diverse and surprising. This anthology showcases 20 talented writers. I hope we'll hear more from them all.
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0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read!, 6 Oct 2009
By 
Lee Evans (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 2 (Paperback)
My friend Andrew Graham has a story in this book, it gets a big recommendation from me!
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Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 2
Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology Volume 2 by Inna Gertsberg etc (Paperback - 11 July 2009)
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