So, I’ve reached the end of my journey through that anthology of stories from (roughly) the first half of the twentieth century. My principal motivation for taking on the project was that I don’t read much in the way of ‘classic’ fiction; I think I have now come to the conclusion that, though I will occasionally be a visitor to the world of the classics, my true interest lies with more recent fiction.
The term ‘classic’ in the book’s title may perhaps be a red herring, as this volume was an omnibus of two earlier ones, so the stories would have been much more contemporary when originally selected. So perhaps it’s not surprising that I found this anthology as much of a mixed bag as I’d expect one of new fiction to be. If I never came across anything that truly blew me away, there are some writers that I’m keen to investigate further. I’ve read more of Frank O’Connor and Saki already; top of my list now are Dylan Thomas, Evelyn Waugh, and Naomi Mitchison. (I’d add Leonard Merrick and William Sansom to that list, but it seems their work is not easily available these days.)
Yet, for all that I enjoyed individual stories, I never took to them in the way I do more contemporary work — I never crossed the gap of the years. That’s why I think I’m going to be a visitor, rather than a denizen, when it comes to older fiction. I’m glad to have read this book, but I feel it’s time to move back towards my own reading heartland for a while.