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, 24 October 2015

"Elsewhere: Somewhere" (Cargo Publishing and McSweeney's, 2012)

A themed anthology with stories by Michel Faber, Jackie Kay, Jen Hadfield, etc. It's one of a series of 4. 50 authors were commissioned altogether, 25 of them Scottish. This volume of 12 stories is 114 pages long.

Faber's was fun until the last inconsequential line. Kay has useful advice to those arriving in Limbo - "Look, you're dead, get over yourself" (p.12). That story too ends rather tamely. Louise Welsh's story ends weakly, and doesn't start too well, though I like "The doctors know how much the please cost me, fifty-eight flickers of my eyes" (p.24). In Gillian Philip's story a rifle is mentioned near the start, reappearing Chekovianly at the end. Manuel's piece has Ulysses returning as an illegal immigrant - atmosphere but little effect. The pieces by James Robertson and (moreso) Roddy Doyle didn't appeal to me. J.A. Hopkin's story had too many passages like "All the time words and more words, of love and leaving, of adoration and meeting, a perpetual pledge, a long and sensual incantation that had me sniffing my own chest such was my drowsy, head-nodding delight" (p.72). I liked Margo Lanagan's piece, though it felt more like a first chapter. Robin Robertson contributed a short-lined poem. Jen Hadfield's creative non-fiction was perhaps my favourite piece - "In Cuajimoloyas, the walls of the health centre advertise cholera, consumptivo. At worst, my Mexican project is intrinsically fake, rotten with privilege and intention." (p.98). Garth Nix's "The Big Question" was a pleasant-enough mini-saga.

Overall the anthology was better than I'd expected.

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