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.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

"Swimming with Diana Dors" by Jeremy Worman (Cinnamon, 2014)

According to the website (though I didn't see any acknowledgements in the book), "Several stories have been previously published in anthologies and literary magazines, including Signals-2 and Signals-3 (London Magazine Editions), The London Magazine, Ambit, The Frogmore Papers, Pen Pusher and The Penniless Press. ‘Terry’ was broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester". Many of these 22 pieces aren't really stories though. Some are character profiles, some are half a page long. The first section, "Places", could be one person's episodic memoir. Of these I found "Christmas Games" interesting, though it also contained the most puzzling passages -

  • On p.29 the mother is referred to a "you" rather than "she" for only 2 paragraphs, which may be deliberate but it doesn't work for me
  • The following paragraph on p.35 sounds messy - In the first week of February snow fell for two days and I couldn't get to school. Mother loved 'weather'. We dressed up and trudged through the snow to Aunt Rose's house in Virginia Water. Our footprints made connections to the roads, paths, and fields of my real world. Ronnie finished filming and returned to Hollywood.

The story ends abruptly, but satisfyingly enough. "The Way" begins promisingly before fading. "Susanna at Maidenhead" is eventful, perhaps my favourite of the group.

The second section, "London", has more personae - detectives, fortune-tellers, sex-workers, etc. Lots of things happen in "Harry Slocombe's East End Return" and "The Sculptor's Party" - there's no lack of detail or surprize (and the former has a lot of plot) but for me little engagement.

In both sections (though moreso in the second) there's a variety of voice. I sometimes felt that the language could have been further from the default - phrases like "She tugged and the force of her assumption drew me off the bus though I had not reached my stop" (p.110) sound more writerly than one might have expected in the context.

Some movies and podcasts are online.

Other reviews

  • Oliver Zarandi (Despite the variable quality of the stories, it is excellent writing overall. One only wishes Worman had narrowed his focus on London as when he does the collection really comes alive)

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