Fiction Introduction by Edwin Riddell

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Contributors from England, Georgia, Wales, Kentucky, Ireland, and Virginia help to make this a truly international edition. With that welcome geographical spread comes a wide range of voices, showing some of the enormous diversity of the English language today.

One of the acid tests for any literary work – for some, perhaps, the ultimate yardstick – must be whether it sticks in  the mind. I’m not saying mental adherence was the only deciding factor here. But looking over the selections, it strikes me as a common attribute.

Sometimes it’s the quirky narrative voice that leaves the footprint in the sand, as in DJ Tyrer’s Curtail Not Your Yearnings. The tone in this one is con brio: “He could no more resist the charms of a woman of marketable virtue than the buttered bread can resist union with a blemished floor.”

On the obverse plane, the effortless, dialogue-driven ‘Deep Third’ narrative of Lara Kristin Herndon in Jill Against the Unicorns is the voice of a natural story-teller.

Eostra, Maureen Bowden’s joyful conceit about an ancient goddess hatching from a box of supermarket eggs to demand an updated love life is utterly memorable. And even funnier than we’ve come to expect from this writer.

Assured dialogue is again one of the hallmarks of Jack and the Pouch of Plenty by Lee Blevins. Stoner literature now seems to be a permanent feature of the cultural scene. For me, Lee’s tale has very believable characters and location, as well as a touch of non-hallucinatory magic.

Floating, Dancing  by Ken McGrath not only burns an image of love and loss on the retina but is bang-up-to-date with its themes of humans versus bots.

Padma Prasad’s A Prayer Meeting leaves an indelible image, partly through its unusual setting (for this reader) of the Middle East. It’s also a very effective exploration of a clash of cultures, embedded within a sharp authorial viewpoint.