Publication Date: 15-Sep-12 | ISBN: 9781844713219 | Trim Size: 198 x 129 mm | Extent: 160pp | Format: Paperback
UK Distribution: | USA Distribution: | Publishing Status: Active
Winner of the 2013 Saboteur Award for Best Short Story Collection
Who are the stars of these brief lives? A boy who steals a trundlewheel. An astronaut. A betrayed wife. A man jealous of his lover’s chickens. Commuters. Glampers. Psychotic twins. What do they have in common? Nothing – except the funny-haha and funny-strange conditions of their lives that bring them joy or misery and make us laugh at them and pity them and love them too.
What happens when you lose both your eyes to squash accidents? When you inherit a shop full of curios? When you fall for the spirit of a famous murderer? When your son’s a tramp? When the one you love is about to kill herself? Or has the Ganges delta in her bloodshot eye? When your butcher doesn’t know anything about meat? Discovering the answers to these questions will knock you sideways – and show that the more we understand about people’s oddity, the more we come to appreciate their essential humanity.
In these tiny stories, written over a period of a few short months, Tony Williams pushes the limits of prose fiction, homing in on the moments that sum up lifetimes and their complicated, bittersweet emotions. Each story crams a whole world into a couple of pages – you can sneak them one at a time whenever you have a spare minute, or gobble the lot – with a cast of hundreds – in a single day.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Clicks; Movements; Lengths; C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre; We’re Kappa; Anya’s complaint; Suki’s letter; The people seem so small and far away; As God intended; Why the Renaissance began in Italy; Sitting on the bank of a mighty river; The wonderful thing; Back in a jiffy; Names of cakes; Call of duty; Cichlids; The flight; Ol’ blue eyes; Mustelids; A glimpse of the glampers; Partners; The prisoner of Mansfield; The best of fathers; Laptops; Markingitis; The blinds; Bollockin bollocks; You can close your heart but I can still hurt you; Dinghyhead; What is and what should never be; Orangina or Appletise; Next door to murder; Matthew; A long, long time; Amuse-bouche; The harbour wall; The variation ; Gareth; The colonel’s execution; Meeting in the mittel; Dr Scopoli; Chestnuts; Keith and I; The region of dangerous roads; Banjo players; Training a champion; Smoking for rudd; Learning to love Mr Lamb; A new look; Better than cod ; Judy; A White Peak prophecy; The whales; No longer covered in the training manual; Coming home; Valid only with reservations; Being like; Going live; Points of contact; Five hundred pound; Through the birches; Chintz almost begins; Huskisson and the sea; One tape dad; Where it was coming from; Piece for oboe; Satnavs and the Shoa; The bowling green; Tender is the night; The division room; When Rachel left ; All the bananas I’ve never eaten; Acknowledgments
PRAISE FOR THIS BOOK
“These tiny fragile stories are stuffed to the brim with wit and energy and love. Their architecture is perfect, as if a thousand complex worlds had been painted onto a grain of rice. If you’re like me you’ll want to read them over and over to unearth their secrets and find out why they leave such a long and lovely aftertaste.” —
“Tony Williams has a special talent for assembling the magical out of the mundane – whether that be pub carpets, satnavs, mattresses or bananas. These short short stories often deal in pain, in death, in loss and loneliness, in absence, in anger and in shame, but Williams always makes sure that fragments of hope emerge, like the music of an oboe, that short burst of happiness that lights up the dark.” —
Tony Williams grew up in Matlock, Derbyshire, lived for a decade in Sheffield now lives in Alnwick. He teaches creative writing at Northumbria University, but previously worked as an environmental charity worker, dogsbody in a French restaurant, and custodian of a disused lead mine. He was also a failed child wrestler. He writes poetry and prose fiction. His first collection of poetry, The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street, was published by Salt and shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and the Portico Prize for Literature.