Monday 26 April 2021

All my reviews of story collections

I've made a list of links to my 250+ reviews of story collections I've read. Most of the write-ups briefly review each story in the collection. A few go further, seeking themes, etc.

I'm surprised not so much by how many I've read, but how much I've forgotten. Impressions that have stood the time of time include -

  • Ones to watch - Elizabeth Baines, Chris Beckett, Vanessa Gebbie, Mark Haddon, Miranda July, Adam Marek, Danielle McLaughlin, David Means, K.J. Orr, Angela Readman, Ali Smith
  • Ones to miss - Douglas Dunn, Penelope Lively, Rose Tremain
  • Stories - "Maxine" by Tim Etchells, "Walk the blue fields" by Claire Keegan, "Everything in this country must" by Colum McCann, "The Goldfish" by David Means, "Watching God" by China Mieville, "All Downhill from Here" by Guy Ware

Friday 16 April 2021

Magazines I've been in

While tidying up my files I made these lists. Many of these magazines no longer exist. There are still a few magazines I'd like to appear in, but maybe I'll just try to complete the alphabet. What poetry magazine's name begins with D?

Poems - Acumen, Agenda, Allegro, Angle, Antiphon, Ariandne, Assent, Atrium, Bluenib, Cake, Envoi, Fenland Journal, Flea, Folio, Glasgow review, High Window, Horizon Review, HU, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Interpreter’s house, Iota, Jennings, Lake, Lighten Up, London Grip, LossLit, Magma, Mobius, Morning Star, North, Nottingham Poetry, Orbis, Orchards, Other Poetry, Outposts, Oxford Poetry, Poetry Nottingham, Poetry Voice, Quartz, Resurgence, Rialto, Sand River, Seam, SHOp, Smith’s Knoll, Snakeskin, So it goes, Sol, South, Stand, Staple, Under the radar, Urthona, Verse, Virtue Without Terror, Weyfarers

I've not had a poem in a magazine whose initial letter is D K T X Y or Z

Stories - Acumen, Aesthetica, Black Market Re-view, Bottom of the World, Brilliant Flash Fiction, Cake, Clam, Connotation Press, Cortland Review, Dogzplot, Drabble, Dream, Dream Catcher, Ellipsis Zine, Everyday Fiction, Fictive Dream, Firefly, Flash, Flashflood, Forge Literary Magazine, Fragmented Voices, Giant Pygmy, HU, Horizon Review, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Jellyfish Review, Journal of Microliterature, Momentum, Necessary Fiction, Nerve Gardens, New Moon, New Walk, Orbis, Panurge, Paragraph Planet, Postbox, short fiction, Southfields, Spelk, Splonk, Stand, Staple, Stockholm Review of Literature, Summit, Toasted Cheese, Transmission, Unbroken, Under the Radar, Unthology, Varsity

I've not had a story in a magazine whose initial letter is K L Q R W X Y or Z

Saturday 10 April 2021

Gender, writing and judging

"The Best American Short Stories (1994)” was edited by Tobias Wolff. He didn't know who the authors were when he was picking stories. He chose about twice as many male authors as female. The year before when Louise Erdrich read blind, she chose twice as many females as males.

Such outcomes shouldn’t surprise us even nowadays. The 2020 longlist for the Edge Hill University Short Story Prize had 12 authors, all female, and 3 judges, all female (the entries were published books - I don’t think the judging was blind).

In "Why Women Read Fiction" Helen Taylor pointed out that "Female readers are [...] the main buyers of fiction, members of book clubs, attendees at literary festivals, and organisers of days out to fictional sites and writers' homes". As more readers become writers, and more females become judges, the gender balance of prizewinners is bound to change. Judges, like other readers, will more easily understand the allusions and concerns of writers who share their life experiences.

Having more than one judge will help reduce partiality, but how many judges are necessary? Gender’s not a binary issue, and besides, there are so many other issues to consider - I suspect judges also tend to select stories by authors their own age, etc. There are times when I barely understand my nieces’ conversation when they talk to each other - what chance would I have judging their prose?

So although one shouldn’t typecast judges (their tastes are often far wider than their books might suggest), I don’t think one should over-estimate their broad-mindedness, especially if they’re authors rather than tutors/academics.