‘Rise Up Singing’ by Anna Wood

One of the short stories that I (will) carry with me. I wrote at length for Lunate about Yes Yes More More when it was published last year. ‘Rise Up Singing’ is a pivotal story in a debut collection that gathers together a small ‘cast’ of characters and follows them from school and over the next couple of decades or so. What do I like about it? I like how it’s generous enough to allow its characters to live on the page jeopardy-free. Even as its trim plot (on a hot summer afternoon in Bolton, we follow two teenage girls, Janey and Annie, from school to home, to club, and to home again) introduces Annie’s father right at the end, all he wants to do is have a quiet moment with the girls, rather than a fight. Which, at first, feels odd. It shouldn’t, of course, but I suspect Wood is motivated in part by aspiration. For her characters. For us all.
I revisit ‘Rise up Singing’’s joyous dialogue in my head on an almost daily basis. In testing moments now, both Han and I will say, “There’s no need for any of this”: a shared understanding that (I hope) pays tribute to the story’s opening scene where Claire places her head on the desk and whimpers that very line in an English Lit class as an ill-advised acid trip starts to take hold.
“We’re good girls,” Janey says to Annie as they sit on the kerb together on their way home. Sometimes that’s all you need from a story. Just wonderful. (GK)

Published in Yes Yes More More, The Indigo Press, 2021

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