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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Short Fiction Anthology Shared by Writers Drawer

 

Title:A Certain Kind of Freedom: Stories and Poems from The Writer's Drawer
Compiler and Editor: Beryl Belsky
Editor's Website Link: http://www.thewritersdrawer.net/
Genre: anthology (short fiction, “stories from life,” and poetry)
Publisher: CreateSpace
No. of Pages: 182
ISBN: 978-1492890317
Reviewer: Lenora at Author Ingrid Hall  and subsequently at Amazon
 
This compact collection brings together 30 or so new writers of all ages and abilities from all over the world.  The book is divided into short fiction, essays and poetry, and the common link is The Writer’s Drawer website rather than subject matter.  Belsky’s stated aim is to present not only stories of literary merit, but also those that provide cultural insight into the writer’s own countries.
I was lucky enough to be given a paperback copy of this collection to review.  Initially I dipped into it, beginning with a few of the poems.  I was immediately impressed by the poetry of Jane Tarlo, ‘Debris’ and ‘It’ were both haunting and perceptive poems that stayed with me long after I had read them.
From there I began at the beginning and found it very hard to put the book down.  Almost all of the stories, essays and poems are of a high standard, clearly some stood out more than others.  The title story ‘A Certain Kind of Freedom’ by Susan Rodgers was an outstanding piece of writing.  A young couple embark on a kayaking trip on a beautiful, yet cursed, coastline. The landscape perhaps reflects Kate and Ryan’s passionate but ultimately doomed relationship, while an impending sense of tragedy quickly unfolds.
‘The Villager Who Dared the Spirits’ by D. Othniel Forte, the tale of a lazy and foolish villager who mocked the woodland spirits and paid the price for his pride is told in a charming folklore style.  The ‘Cry of the Fish Eagle’ by Leandre Grobler  presents the tragic clash between an ancient indigenous/aboriginal culture and modern ‘civilization’ when the last remaining Khoisan couple find refuge in an Eden-like valley, only to be pursued by well-meaning but misguided academics.  Perhaps the bigger lesson in this story is that modern ‘civilized’ society cannot be forgiven for its disregard of more traditional ways of life.  Of the other stories, I enjoyed the Noire-ish and conspiracy theorist tale ‘Nuked’ by Robert Walton and the time travel fantasy ‘Immortal Beloved’ by Tyger Schonholzer.
In the essays section, I loved ‘All the Cats in the World’ by Mina Sephri, writing of her and her family’s love of cats set against the backdrop of revolutionary Iran.  There is a bittersweet poignancy in the final message of this story.  Aside from some very poignant and touching writing, the collection also contains some very pithy personal essays – I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing with Vincent Quek in his essay ‘Punctuality is the Politeness of Kings’.  My other favourite in this section was ‘The Smoke Bird’ by Bryan Clark, a beautiful story about an aboriginal mystic and how the dead can still watch over the living.
All in all, barring a couple of pieces that jarred with the overall quality of this collection, Beryl Belsky has selected an engaging and at times highly moving collection of writing.  Credit must be given to her undoubted skills as an editor, despite the challenges of editing works from writers of many nationalities who may not have English as a first language, Belsky’s collection is extremely polished and eminently readable.  I would recommend this book both as a cover-to-cover read, and for dipping into.  I certainly won’t be giving Ingrid [Author Ingrid Hall – BB] my copy back (sorry Ingrid) as I will definitely be re-reading many of these works.  Beryl Belsky has expressed the hope that this will be the first in a collection of books based on works from The Writer’s Drawer and I certainly hope she achieves this aim.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Beryl Belsky is an academic editor and writer, and owner and operator of the free, intercultural, literary website The Writer's Drawer (www.thewritersdrawer.net). She launched the website in early 2012 as a showcase for "shy," or drawer, writers to post their work. Since Beryl also offers free editing support for submissions, the site attracts writers from all over the world, many of them non-native English speakers.


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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews, reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure, and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've read. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by genre, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the search engine handy for gleaning the names of small publishers. Find other writer-related blogs at Sharing with Writers and The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor.

1 comment:

berylpieces said...

Thank you, Carolyn, for posting this. I invite readers and writers to visit The Writer's Drawer, www.thewritersdrawer.net. There is some fascinating material there. Writers, the deadline for the next Writer's Drawer anthology is September 15, 2014! So put your thinking caps on - or maybe you've got something in the drawer?