‘Stage Fright’ by Lisa Natalie Pearson

One of my top-ten all-time favourite short stories, ‘Stage Fright’ was published in 1995 and I must have read it at least once a year every year since. In which case, why do I still find it so difficult to remember what happens in it? Beyond saying that it’s about a woman who on summer nights watches a couple in the apartment across the street, and that the perspective shifts from the watcher to a police photographer to the neutral gaze of a possibly imaginary screenplay, I’m always a bit stuck. Pearson – who latterly dropped the middle name – published a handful of excellent short stories (one or two of which I was lucky enough to help into print) before moving into publishing. Since 2008 she’s been running the outstanding Siglio Press.

First published in Chick-Lit: Postfeminist Fiction (FC2) edited by Cris Mazza & Jeffrey DeShell. Recommended by Nicholas Royle, who is the author of seven novels, most recently First Novel (Vintage) and three collections of short stories, most recently Ornithology (Configo Press). Reader in Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Met, he also runs Nightjar Press and is head judge of the Manchester Fiction Prize. You can read Nicholas’s full Personal Anthology here.

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