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.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

"the Bridport Prize 2005" (Sansom and Company, 2005)

The yearly anthology. From what the judges say, the stories were better than the poems

  • "I was sent the top 50 stories, drawn from a submission of approximately 4,000, to judge anonymously. 49 of the stories I received were of a very high standard. A short story must go somewhere, and actually arrive in the span of its short life. It should have a beginning, a middle, and most of all, an end. I would say that 75% of the stories were predominately sad" (Maggie Gee)
  • "I read 100 poems from the 4,000 plus submitted for the prize. They came with a warning that it had been 'quite hard to find 100 poems of good enough quality' - and I have to say, I can see what this means" (Andrew Motion).

I preferred the stories too - some SF and fable/fantasy, and mostly character-centred. I don't know which poems won prizes, but the ones later in this book don't seem at all striking.

Some of the stories (e.g. "The king of love") read like atmospheric pieces or character sketches with a perfunctory finish. Verbal fireworks were kept to a minimum. I made a note of 2 similes (though the 2nd might not be one) -

  • "He got a section 2 and was transferred to a place where they keep repeating your Christian name in every sentence, like firemen rescuing someone trapped in a lift" ("How to Eat an Elephant")
  • "A jumble of objects cramped the wide hall and turned it into a terrible obstacle course. It looked as if there had been a decision to have a clear out followed by a failure of nerve at the last moment." ("Morgan's Pomade for the Misses Linster")

I've been meaning to read Adam Marek for a while. His "Robot wasps" was interesting, though formulaic in its structure - 3 threads were flipped between (wasps; neighbours; child's impending marriage) with at least 2 coming together at the end.

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