‘The Summer Room’ by Giles Gordon

* Picked by Nicholas Royle

A man is sitting in a summer room. It is only mid-April, but he has sat on the settee in the summer room on six separate occasions during the last three weeks. We all know and, dare I say, love that feeling: the promise of summer while the calendar still says spring. The description of the room – for instance, the relative dimensions of the window frame and the newspaper the man is holding – is minutely, obsessively detailed and repetitive, recalling the similar approach of Christine Brooke-Rose in her story ‘Red Rubber Gloves’ in Tales of Unease (1966, ed John Burke) and of Alain Robbe-Grillet in the stories that make up his short collection Instantanés (1962, translated as Snapshots). Tension builds over the four pages of Gordon’s story and a sudden movement provides release. I wish the last sentence had not made the final edit, as it feels unnecessary. 

First published in Pictures From an Exhibition, Allison & Busby, 1970

* Nicholas Royle is the author of seven novels, two novellas and three volumes of short fiction. He is Reader in Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University and head judge of the Manchester Fiction Prize. He runs Nightjar Press and is an editor for Salt Publishing. You can read his own Personal Anthology, plus other occasional contributions, here.

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