Posthumous Stories by David Rose (writer of short stories)
|Posthumous Stories by David Rose (writer of short stories)|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A collection written by one of the best respected writers in the short story sphere; sometimes touching, sometimes enigmatic but always intriguing.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 228||Date: October 2013|
|Publisher: Salt Publishing|
These sixteen short stories have one thing in common: lives, and plenty of them. We jump from the earthy banter of a road crew building speed humps to an interview pre-broadcast of a classical piece where the interviewer isn't getting the kind of answers for which he hopes. On the way we meet the least-mentioned Beatle, visit a world where people are paid to read for the many that don't and the man trying to remember his father through art, to name but a few. For good measure there are a couple of Kafka-esque experiments that also work as ripping good yarns.
David Rose is someone (yes, 'is' - he's not the posthumous one) who's written novels but has built up a name for himself writing short stories for magazines and anthologies and this is a collection of those he's built up over the last 25 years. The first thing you'll notice about David's style is that it's too diverse to put your finger on. Each story differs in mood as well as subject, the common denominator being his propensity to throw us in at the deep end.
For instance in The Fall we encounter a holy order with a difference although the theological connection isn't obvious at first. As we read, it's a sense of intrigue and a need to get our bearings that may drive us to begin with but by doing that we become hooked on this world of covert operations. Here we not only find ourselves plumping for an anti-hero (or at least I did) but also watching a master class in how the Bible can be used to sanction anything. (We'll come back to this story later.)
There are often deeper meanings and connotations, as in Flora, the gentle tale of a horticulturalist who opens his book collection to a botany student. As we absorb the story's gentle simplicity, we realise the books in question mean metaphorically so much more than paper and ink. And then there are those experiments to which I eluded earlier, The Fall and The Castle...
In his notes David explains so much better than I can why and how he wrote these two stories with the same titles as two of Franz Kafka's tales. However, in a nutshell, he's taken lines from the original corresponding stories and used them as jumping-off points for his. Although I've heard of Kafka, I've never read his work so was a little worried that I would feel excluded. Not a bit of it; the stories are still engaging, Kafka's work being used as a scaffold rather than an obscure heart.
Not all the stories are deep though. One of my favourites is the Alan-Bennett-like The Fifth Beatle in which Vera tells us about her life, including her encounter with the 'Fab Four'. Here David also demonstrates his sense of humour, especially to those of us of a certain age when we consider Mantovani being described as man music.
While I was reading them I didn't think that the book was taking too much hold of my imagination, but the fact I'm still thinking about it days later hints otherwise. However considering all human life is there from affluence to vagrancy with no holds barred (even something based on the Raoul Moat case from 2010), I shouldn't have been surprised.
I'd like to thank Salt for providing us with a review copy.
Further Reading: If you enjoy good short stories, try more of the cream of the British crop in Best British Short Stories 2013 by Nicholas Royle (editor).
You can read more book reviews or buy Posthumous Stories by David Rose (writer of short stories) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Posthumous Stories by David Rose (writer of short stories) at Amazon.com.
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