Small Voices, Big Confessions: Short Stories, Big Writers Paperback – 15 Nov 2006
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Edit Red's publishing debut Small Voices, Big Confessions is a short story anthology that includes writers as wide-ranging in style and form as their geographical locations. They have cast their net wide, and come back with quite a catch. Divided by land and sea, from Kenya to Northern Ireland; U.S.A. to New Zealand, this is a collection as diverse as you could hope to find, from the tender and sublime to the outright bizarre. And yet moments of shared human experience ensure that the collection rarely disconnects. The King of Fish Castles , with which the anthology opens, is a tender portrait of Wes, a man contemplating his own mortality. Reflections of his past delicately shimmer and skip over the surface of this story like the Petoskey stones Wes collects from the beach and discards in the ocean. The conflicting struggle both to accept and refuse the inevitable pervades this text. Author, James Ogle, manages to prevent his prose from drifting into sentimentality or cliché; both in the narration of the internal landscape of the human mind, and the external scenery that influences, provokes and projects thought and memory. Indeed, the interconnectivity of internal and external landscapes is found throughout the work. The Head of the Family by Chris McIvor is a tale of female interiority set amongst the vast expanse of a desert plain. Fraught with tension and a murderous sub-text, an embittered wife battles the frustrations of an indifferent husband and a malevolent goat. Yes, goat. Known only as the woman her monotonous existence mirrors that of her husband, and yet the divide between them is as wide as the land they tend to. As the woman s intentions become horrifyingly clear, we learn that this is a tale of revenge based on dissatisfaction and paranoia; McIvor s subtle plot progression ensures that the darker side of humanity, glimpsed in the story s visceral denouement, still shocks. The Truth, In Brief, Glimpsed Through the Rocks of a Half-finished Bourbon , by Eoin Beckett, is part stream of consciousness and part quasi-academic essay. Within the claustrophobic environ of a many-peopled party, the male form, with all its component parts, is objectified and eroticised by the female s adulterous gaze. Blurring omniscient narration and internal monologue, the female protagonist s contemplations refract and crystallize (complete with qualifying footnotes) as the ice in her drink melts under the heat of her stare. Given that this is an anthology that totals twenty stories, it would be impossible to review each piece of short fiction with any degree of justice here and it almost seems unfair to single out one above another. This is a book to wade into, take to bed and huddle down with. Small Voices, Big Confessions contains an enormous cast of characters, including an insane actress-killing polar bear; a sex-crazed bongo player for Bryan Ferry; a cadavar being shipped home decked in American illegally imported goods; and a Xanex laden housewife. These are stories that contain not only big confessions, but big themes. Racism, adultery, murder, fraud, conspiracy, love, death all are tackled here with refreshing originality; together with a range of voices, dialects and idioms which give this anthology particular texture and range. Many of the writers have taken risks with the short story as a form, and whilst at times the suspension of disbelief is pushed to its absolute limit, these writers have proven that the contraction of writing space does not mean a reduction in literary quality. Edit Red have indeed got the whole damned world weaving words and the short story has gone global. Kelly Smith --The Round Table Review
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