Chosen by Nicholas Royle
In this three-page story by the late experimental novelist, short story writer, anthologist and agent, who would have been 80 this May, baby comes first, sitting unclaimed in the middle of a room full of women, wearing a nappy. The story proceeds to look for the baby’s mother, allocating that role to a young woman, an unhappy and unmarried company director, who then needs to be found a man. It is 1978, after all. The story is included in Gordon’s third collection, published in that same year. My copy contains a handwritten set of notes. Referring to the present story, the reader writes, ‘Does the inability to have “a single decent relationship with anyone” prevent one from having an identity?’
Published in The Illusionist and other fictions, Harvester, 1978
Nicholas Royle is the author of seven novels and three volumes of short fiction. He has edited twenty anthologies and is series editor of Best British Short Stories (Salt). 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 his full Personal Anthology and other selections here.