Let me introduce a mini series to Pixie Teeth, Bitesized. Smaller blogs, focusing on literature- especially anthologies. Little snippets of my thoughts on anthologies and similar books. Infrequent but interesting, as I can’t always wait to write!
Anthologies, for me, are quickly consumed, piece by piece, but then deliberately digested. I can’t possibly have a whole one in a sitting!
The first few in the Bitesized series is “Subject Verb Object, An Anthology of New Writing”. A collection of writers, 18 in all, of “first-timers and award-winners” as the back so proudly say. It’s a fascinating concept; each writer submitted a prompt worded subject verb object, in the active voice, once collated they were randomly given out, and that was the starting point of each piece. Each piece will have it’s prompt included, so you can see how it all started.
“Cornwall”, James Torrance
Prompt: The crowd goes quiet
The story centres around Jack. A very complicated, bitter, and desperately sad man. Losing his identity as a writer and as a boyfriend, following a messy breakup, he accepts the offer of a holiday to Cornwall. Hoping a change of scenery will help him resolve his twisted relationships.
The most destructive relationship Jack has, taking precedence over his human ones, is his ties to drugs. Both legal and illegal. Before leaving for Cornwall he swears off the booze, but it’s the first thing he sorts when he arrives. Although he whines about his state the morning after he’s always eager to participate the night before. Jack is the master of self-inflicted misery.
Luke, Peter, Andy, Nick & Nat, and Sian serve only to provide him with further debauchery or to play into his objectification of women. If anything I feel sorry for them- especially Andy. Andy invites Jack on the holiday, where not only does he drink up the man’s expensive booze but he hits on the girl that Andy is obviously crushing on.
The whole story is desperately sad.
“Thickly Settled”, Alex Kimmel
Prompt: He swallowed the world
Years ago, about 12, I swore to myself that I would never describe a book as bittersweet. I had never read anything that truly described it, yet a fellow English student (reading from the same list as me) used it to describe every book. Now, now I can justifiably use it.
“Thickly Settled” is bittersweet. Even reading and typing the words is giving me chills.
It depicts the ethereal relationship between two outcasts. Close and Calm. Desperate people, who want to be accepted. The woman trapped in her own face, and apartment. The man who just doesn’t understand other people. Coincidently neighbours. Each trapped in their own pitiful cage.
Close and Calm’s relationship felt so similar to my own at some points. Meeting over a similar appreciation. Initially not knowing much about each other, but communicating. Being in the presence of someone who accepts you. A private secret conversation. Thankfully that is where the similarities end, and the story plays out so wonderfully yet wistfully.
“When the Mirror Clouds” Dane Cobain
Prompt: Jay pulled at the mirror.
I really hope that Dane continues this piece- because I want to see how it continues.
It’s a fascinating depiction of someone coping. Coping with co many things. From the mirror phobia to his unsatisfying life. The story seems to focus on interactions- or lack thereof. Not only did he lose his mother but his paternal relationship shrivelled up too. Later his relationships are professional, caustic and clinical, or out right abusive.
No wonder Jay has to employ coping methods. Jay’s story has been wonderfully thought out, right down to the minor details, for his phobia of mirrors. One can only wonder if his phobia, Spectrophobia, was something inherited from his father’s bizarre activities or learnt. How Jay struggles with public transport, as he would be unable to drive without the use of rear view and wing mirrors. Even the tiny detail of taking a book, to avoid seeing mirrors along his commute. Minute details immerse the reader into the world effortlessly.
Anyway, Jay has the awkward position of being a counsellor, or therapist, who themselves needs psychological help. Or does he? It wonderfully intriguing through the book. Guessing, wondering, pondering, and finally answering the question- is Jay seeing things? Is The Weirdness just a phobia?