I’ve just discovered the Sunday Salon and thought I’d join in. What I’m going to do is read and blog about some short stories online. I’ll link to each story so you can read it for yourself. For this first post, I’ve decided to tackle a couple of stories from Untitled Books.
‘Menzies Meat’ by Evie Wyld takes us to the tiny mining town of Menzies in Western Australia; and Elaine, the sixteen-year-old girl who works in her father’s butcher shop there. Elaine is frustrated at being stuck in a rut and longs to get out of Menzies; the story is essentially a portrait of how her frustration builds to a head, until… but that, of course, would be telling. At first, the narrative seems to be going all over the place, but the reason becomes clear in the end: everything — from the stifling atmosphere of the shop to the salt lake that looks the same whether it’s full or dry — is an expression or mirror of Elaine’s feeling of inertia. Wyld conjures that feeling vividly.
Zoe Green’s ‘The Wake’ is narrated by someone (who could be male or female; I’m not certain) who is dying of cancer, and currently planning their own funeral, as they watch Hester (who lives in the flat below) in the garden. The action moves, paragraph by paragraph, between the present moment, the narrator’s own life (as they ruminate especiallyon an ex-lover, Ferdi), and scenes from Hester’s past. There are some quite subtle moments of characterisation, as the narrator tries (not all that successfully) to live through Hester — so the title doesn’t just refer to the ceremony being planned; for the narrator, the telling of the story itself is a kind of wake. As with ‘Menzies Meat’, this tale grows richer the more you turn it over in your mind.