Unthology: No. 3 by Robin Jones and Ashley Stokes (Editors)

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Unthology: No. 3 by Robin Jones and Ashley Stokes (Editors)

Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: This, the third volume from Unthank showcasing talented short story writers, again contains a wondrous variety of styles and subjects. If you have yet to discover the power of the short story, this is a great place to start.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 278 Date: November 2012
Publisher: Unthank Books
ISBN: 978-0957289703

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Unthank Books have brought out their third annual short story 'unthology'. (See what they did there?) The series is described as showcasing the unconventional, unpredictable and experimental which is correct as far as it goes. They omit words that I personally would have included; words like 'refreshing' and 'excitingly different' because, if I needed to be convinced about short stories (and, being a fan, I don't) they would be the clincher.

If we're going for seasonal metaphors, each of the 18 stories by 18 different authors is like a Christmas present that you can't work out till it's fully opened. David Rose's Terra Cotta for instance, appears to be a mickey-take of over-cultured gallery guides. In one case the guide (and narrator) informs us of what a figure was actually thinking when painted. However, slowly little hints emerge and our perception is twisted.

Terra Cotta is just one of so many favourites I can't list them all. I'll therefore not mention the hauntingly touching story of a request for assisted suicide, an amusing take on new female orientated therapy (yes, one for the 'laydees'), the China-Mieville-like talent of Ian Chung or the cat-absorbing obelisk in Maggie's garden… No, I won't mention those at all – I promise.

One story I will mention, though, is Angela Readman's Before the Song because it's personal. Bobbie Gentry's Ode to Billie Joe was part of the soundtrack to my precocious early childhood and here we're treated to a discussion around the table of Billie Joe's girlfriend's family. Now, 45 years after the song, we have the literary time machine to find out why Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchee Bridge. It may not be as clever as Night Nine or C D Rose's gangster tale but is an interesting study of teenage secrecy within a family setting and it hits a nostalgia node.

As one would expect of a total mixture, some of the story gifts may not be at the top of your Christmas list. For me, for instance, the apocalyptic Trans-Neptune, feels a little long in places and, personally, I'd have preferred to hear more about the impending doom and less about the intricacies of the heroine's relationships. But, despite that, it's still original, interesting and would perhaps shine more brightly away from such august company.

All in all this is a bit of a lifesaver at this time of year. If you want to buy an adult-someone a book for Christmas and don't know their taste, then this is the one for you, having all bases covered. Just remember not to crease the spine as you read it before wrapping; you'll know you want to.

A special thank you to Unthank Books for sending us a copy of this book for review.

If you've enjoyed this and would like another pick and mix of short story writers, we heartily recommend All Shall be Well by Stephanie Tillotson and Penny Thomas.

Buy Unthology: No. 3 by Robin Jones and Ashley Stokes (Editors) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Unthology: No. 3 by Robin Jones and Ashley Stokes (Editors) at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Unthology: No. 3 by Robin Jones and Ashley Stokes (Editors) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Unthology: No. 3 by Robin Jones and Ashley Stokes (Editors) at Amazon.com.


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