Some of Us Glow More Than Others by Tania Hershman
|Some of Us Glow More Than Others by Tania Hershman|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Scientifically astute but definitely grounded in human life, this collection shows her debut was no flash in the beaker.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 160||Date: May 2017|
|Publisher: Unthank Books|
|External links: Author's website|
I won't be alone in stating that reading short story collections can be slightly awkward. Going through from A-Z, witnessing a bounty of ideas and characters in short order can be too much, but do you have the right to pick and choose according to what appeals, and what time you have to fill? The sequence has carefully been considered, surely. Such would appear to be the case here. The last time I read one of this author's collections, with The White Road, the only real difficulty was holding back and rationing them, but here you not only get a whopping forty pieces of writing, they are also spread into sections.
And that's easily forgotten, as I hit the first section and thought a page had a poem on – no, it was an individual contents sheet. And I looked in the section for a linking theme, or any connection to the subtitle 'Grounded' in vain. That doesn't mean the stories weren't well worth visiting – be they the ex-physicist-now-nun building a biology lab, a woman going through therapy after a breakup, or a songsmith trying to get back on her feet after an upset. Yes, you do get a strong proportion of females on these pages, but that shouldn't matter.
There are lots of bird metaphors and symbolism, which does matter – some you can fully grasp, other perhaps not. There is also science, which once again doesn't strictly make this science fiction, although what else am I to make of a woman seemingly fed happiness from flicking a switch on a wall for sustenance throughout her entire life, a fight to resurrect a man, or indeed a girl playing games on a war-hit beach? That latter is certainly a consummate example of the short story – six pages to stick with you as long as any novel. Elsewhere robot servants unsettle a man with the way they subdue children; a whole new sport gets invented; and the elements of science fiction happily replace the political in a short look at the life of what appears to be an economic migrant in a voice-operated future.
True, it has to be said that compared with her debut, this does not have that must-hold-some-back-for-later lip-smacking appeal, as too many small pieces that are quite difficult to grasp fill the corners of the book. But it does show the author's talent for the quirky-in-a-good-way, and a measured intelligence that shines even when it does get too exotic and enigmatic. Her science journalism background comes to the fore in another masterclass story, when every research-minded scientist around goes on strike, leaving laymen to invent new sciences to see if coded messages are present in the works of art, juggling displays and so on that come from the brainboxes as a result. I can forgive the few small pieces I'd have done without, for they are endemic in every short story collection, it seems to me, and here the ratio of quality to questionable is very high. Here we see a person who could almost be thought of as a reviewer, finding their specific task really getting them down. Well my task was not onerous whatsoever, and I think reading this you'll find much pleasure too.
I must thank the publishers for my research (sorry, review) copy.
The author's sophomore collection was My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions. A reporter on the world's executions, or somebody creating a spreadsheet of ways of dying, could also have come from the bureaucratic and similarly sci-fi-through-a-lens works of this author's American equivalent, Some Possible Solutions by Helen Phillips.
You can read more book reviews or buy Some of Us Glow More Than Others by Tania Hershman at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Some of Us Glow More Than Others by Tania Hershman at Amazon.com.
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