Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lunchtime read: The Best Short Stories

There is a clever shift in focus here away from what you expect to be the centre of attention. It is an interesting idea to take the theme of one event and overplay it on another with the question of transmitting electricity and thoughts not just being confined to the Marconi wireless machine.

The location is a chemist’s shop in a south coast seaside town and there are three characters waiting for a call from a transmitter in Poole. Mr Shaynor is dying of consumption and spends his time manning the shop, except for a brief outing with his girlfriend, while the narrator and Mr Cashell wait for the message. Mr Cashell is explaining to the narrator about how electricity works and messages comes through the ether and then the narrator goes back into the shop and sees Shaynor in a consumptive slump/trance quote some Keat’s poetry and write some magical verses down. He is called to the back room but tells Cashell that something is coming through in the shop. What heightens the tension is the knowledge that Cashell shares with the narrator while Shaynor is out that is man, capable of loving poetry, is going to be dead within the year.

So far, reading these stories over a week and a half, there have been different styles, ambitious use of voice and twists that are an unexpected surprise in a short story. There is a lot for writers and literary lovers to learn by reading and enjoying these stories. More tomorrow…

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