NWR Issue r4

Review 4

Our latest, free-to-view edition, Review 4, is once again dominated by short story collections. In this smorgasbord of eight reviews in both text and audio formats plus creative and journalistic pieces in video, themes emerge of mythic women, metamorphosis, food, heightened sensory faculties and male narrators with magical distancing powers. In one of Mark Blayney’s tales from his second short fiction collection, Doppelgangers (Parthian), a bronze sculpture comes to life to commit murder on behalf of her creator. Within our poetry showcase video, in one of two poems by Alys Conran, ‘At the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’, a speaker asks, ‘Would it hold you? What kind of rage sits between its legs? Does it spit?’ In the same piece, in Polly Atkin’s ‘Free Night’, the chorus-like characteristics of the narrator/s incantation are amplified by recitation in multiple voices (a Welsh tradition): ‘Tonight, we set fire to it all. / Our bones are the flints we strike together. //… A long time ago we were saints or gods. / Healing oil trickled from the joints of our bones. // …Tonight, we set fire to it all.’ Meanwhile, in her text rave review of Paulette Jonguitud’s Mexican novel, Mildew (CB Editions), Amy McCauley admires a truly enveloping and original story about shame, honour and female rivalry, which ‘acquires the enduring and immovable power of fable’ and manages both to straddle genres and evade category altogether.

In our audio review by Ashley Wakefield, food and memory tie together the strands of economist Rosie Shepperd’s debut poetry collection, The Man at the Corner Table (Seren), which plays with the Dutch master concept of ‘at table’. Ashley admires the collection as being ‘lushly detailed and carefully layered, like the flavours in an expertly prepared dish’ where ‘eating food, preparing food; even… smelling or seeing it… become vehicles for memory’. In our video interview (made by Jess Rose), Tony Bianchi also talks about his narrators’ sensory capacities, together with their distancing characteristics, both of which are usually found in the classic masculine-type autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). One of our surprisingly few, versatile, bilingual authors, Tony has just published two novels in two months, the first being the winner of the National Eisteddfod Prose Medal, Dwy Farwolaeth Endaf Rowlands (The Two Deaths of Endaf Rowlands), published by Gomer in August. The second, Harry Selwyn’s Last Race, published in late September by Parthian, was the main subject in Tony’s discussion with Emma Musty, as well as the differing demands of Welsh and monoglot readerships. Loyalty and audience are also the salient points of Jamie Harris’ review of Iain Sinclair’s latest Welsh-set prose book, Black Apples of Gower. Notwithstanding the author’s own pronouncements regarding ‘the folly of deviating from his London territory’, Jamie welcomes Sinclair’s probing of his ‘evolving Welsh myth of origin’. Whether or not this is a diversion or signals a late career renaissance, Black Apples certainly represents a distinct and energising break from his London project, Jamie writes.

Also featured in Review 4 are reviews of books from Honno and Faber plus another from Parthian, the short story collection, Clown’s Shoes, whose audio review we recorded two weeks before the announcement, in Quebec on 14 October, that its author, Rebecca John, had won the $1000 prize for under 30-year-old unpublished writers, the PEN International New Voices Award. Our reviewer, Mary Jacob, quite rightly declared John a ‘rising star’, expert of the ‘slow reveal’ and mistress of a world ‘never far from dreams, with sharp edges’. In text, we also review three new editions of north Walian author Rob Mimpriss’ short fiction collections and Caerffili-born Thomas Morris’ debut story collection, We Don’t Know What We’re Doing, for which reviewer Jonathan Edwards makes great claims (‘a very exciting moment for literature in Wales’) and comparisons with the work of Dylan Thomas, Sherwood Anderson, Denis Johnson or Raymond Carver.


previous editorial: Review 2
next editorial: What's the Time, Mr Wolf?


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