Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

"Riptide 1" (2007)

"As writers, we're both very aware of the lack of publication opportunities for short stories in the UK and we wanted to do something about it" says the editorial. The result is 133 pages of packed, naturalistic prose - 19 stories. Writers include Susan Wicks and Luke Kennard (whose poetry I know), and Venessa Gebbie. Kennard's piece is good fun. The longest story (which I liked) is 14 pages. Sally Flint's piece is only 1.5 pages. I like that too, and Chelsey Flood's piece. Vanessa Gebbie's story has a standard recipe (a foreground narrative punctuated by contrasting memories, the climax bringing the 2 together then transcending) though it uses a bold combination of ingredients - it's lively throughout.

Some of the other pieces, though they're atmospheric and introduce convincing characters, have the tone/action pacing of longer pieces. They're more like adapted novel chapters; the endings seem merely to avoid closure rather than offer an alternative. And [style-pedant warning] some of the pieces have awkward phrasings that don't seem deliberate

  • "I recognised it as my car as my car makes a high-pitched wheedling noise" (repetition of "as my car", p.1)
  • "There was a war going on there" (p.57. "A war was going on there" is easier on my ear); "There were four in there" (p.62)
  • "Roll up for the Arabian Derby" repeats several plain constructions and words - "make out", "make their way", "way", "something", "to where", "time to time" - and the first 2 paragraphs feel rather slack - "started to clap her hands" could be shortened, etc.

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