I was contacted by Tony Williams to ask whether I would be interested in reviewing his book, which is a collection of flash fiction stories.
Up until more recent years, I haven’t really been a fan of short stories, but this seems to have changed as I’ve got older. I don’t know whether it’s because life has got more busy, that I only ever seem to read on my Tube commute these days or whether I get more easily distracted.
However, I absolutely loved Dan Rhode’s Anthropology which I think was the last full book of flash fiction that I read, so what was there to lose?
There doesn’t seem to be a theme to the stories (apart from that they are all based in the UK), and they are varying lengths, but each no more than 2-3 pages long.
Tony wrote all of the stories over a few months, and having been doing a creative writing course over the past few weeks, this is a real inspiration for me. The stories are written so differently, with so many voices coming through and yet they all have his sharp, concise style that conveys a real feeling of good editing – an ability I wish more full-length novel authors had.
Most of the stories are a bit off-the-wall, which really appeals to me, many have a surprising twist within a very ordinary setting, but all of them are just about people – relationships, emotions and just getting through life itself.
There is the man who can’t forgive his friends for the squash injuries imposed on him, the strangers that meet on a train in the style of an easily-recognised advert, the teacher who uses fruit to mark papers, the guy who ends up with more babies than ANYONE would want and the man who does something unspeakable with his finger!
I loved it. Not every story was a hit, but way more of them had me smiling or giggling to myself than didn’t.
I mean, come on, who isn’t going to like a 2-page story that starts, “Any situation is improved by the presence of a banjo player.” or, “I can’t stop thinking about Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.”