I noticed at the beginning of the month that Bookish Beck was doing a September Short Stories project, and thought I didn’t have any on hand, though was expecting one in at some point. Then I acquired these two short volumes (I am hesitating to call these books at the moment and include them in my annual total; however, they are collections of several short stories each, so I think they probably are books) from the new Heath Bookshop in Kings Heath (read about my initial visits here) and managed to sit down and read them on a quiet work day in the week.

Charlie Hill (ed.) – “Stories”

(09 September 2022, The Heath Bookshop)

This was a collection put out in 2016 to celebrate the first five years of the PowWow festival of writing in Birmingham, and has exclusive pieces by well-known authors who have been guests at the festival and two winners of the first PowWow short story competition. They didn’t set a word limit, so some pieces are quite long and one under a page, giving a nice variety to the collection.

There was some mild horror and creepiness, I had three favourites, Clare Morrall’s piece about a couple collecting books in case the lights go out; Nicholas Royle’s long piece about books and their on-going lives (I wondered which Nicholas Royle this was, but it’s definitely the Picador-collecting one unless there’s some serious metafiction going on) and Kit de Waal’s “Earliest Date of Release” about a prisoner leaving prison and finding some surprises. All the stories had merit and that variety I mentioned.

Charlie Hill – “Walking Backwards”

(09 September 2022, The Heath Bookshop)

A collection of the Birmingham writer’s own pieces, some short, some long, and with the variety but linked feeling his works always show (thinking of “I Don’t Want to Go to the Taj Mahal“). Of course I particularly liked “The man on the bench” which has a man who presumably lives in a hostel make the very familiar walk from Digbeth to Moseley, really nicely done and so resonant for anyone from this side of the city. And “The theme park”, set among three people who work in one, has a twist that packs an emotional punch. An enjoyable short collection.

Thanks to Bookish Beck for inspiring me to add these two to my September reading!