Introduction

A fellow writer once advised me that writing short form prose was a helpful way of developing the craft necessary for writing lengthier narratives but novels and short stories are different forms, and therefore require a different craft, I think. I find short stories hardest and so it is with Wayne’s World-style ‘not worthy’ bowing and scraping that I assemble this personal anthology of tales that have given me a jolt and in some instances caused a change of direction in my very personhood.

I have left out lots of favourites – I’m appalled that Lucia Berlin, Anne Enright and Alice Munro, mistresses of the form, didn’t make my final list, and Angela Carter is an obvious omission. Lesley Nneka Arimah’s ‘Who Will Greet You at Home’ and Sophie Mackintosh’s ‘The Weak Spot’ were close contenders, find their stories here and here. A couple of short stories which stayed with me are by unpublished writers – shout out to Carol Farrelly and Chetna Maroo. Hopefully their stories won’t remain unpublished – they are too good not to share. In this selection I have included half a dozen current writers alongside half a dozen of their predecessors – dead writers whose stories provide the foundations for my own tentative constructions in this most exacting of forms.

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