Review: Lost and Found edited by Emma L. E. Rees, plus bonus book launch!
Tuesday June 25 saw the official launch of ‘Lost and Found – short stories from the Cheshire Prize for Literature 2012’. I was fortunate enough to have a story included in the anthology and to attend the launch held at Riverside in Chester. A very enjoyable evening allowed the guests to listen to readings from winner Sarah Frost Mellor, plus authors Barbara Corfield, Miriam Sulhunt and Don Nixon (I hope I’ve remembered all that correctly!) It always surprises me how many very talented authors have their first publication in a Cheshire Prize anthology and how they always seem shocked to have been chosen – you’d never guess the first timers, from stories or readings. The event was hosted by editor Dr Emma Rees, who gave a lovely introduction to the anthology and highlighted the very pertinent point, raised by winner Sarah Frost Mellor, that it’s a fantastic thing that the Prize competition is still free to enter – a fact that probably encourages all those great first-time authors to take a chance and share their work (I know it encouraged me when I first entered in 2006!)
Anyway, since I took so long to write about the launch evening (I’m blaming a mistaken holiday to the Lake District!) I’m going to review the anthology here as well.
‘Lost and Found’ is a typically strong collection of stories, from a series of prize anthologies that I’ve come to rely on as always entertaining and well-written. There are several themes running through the book, not just of ‘lost and found’ – butchers (including my own story ‘Butcher’s Grass’) and moving house are just two that struck me. With a wide range of topics and genre on show, there’s something for all readers in this collection, but there are a few I’ve marked out as personal favourites.
‘The Adventures of Him and Her’ by Hannah Riordan is a nicely subtle exploration of an unlikely friendship-and-maybe-more that shows just how we only really miss something when it’s gone. ‘The Inheritance’ by Sophie Green is a family tree in story form, sweet, whimsical and tragic with an ending that I can’t decide if it’s sad or hopeful. ‘Dangerous Tuesday’, a love story by Angela Williams I found terribly sad but so beautifully written and vivid that I was hooked immediately. ‘Mr Mystery’s Lion’ by Clare Kirwan is a strange and disturbing little tale about children performing on stage, written with effective restraint. ‘Panada’ by Tanya D. Ravenswater is a darkly comic, slightly grotesque and ultimately rather satisfying peek into the lives of a close-knit family who rely on their matriarch for everything. There’s more to Elizabeth Brassington’s post-war butcher’s shop in ‘Blood flies upwards’ than first meets the eye and, finally, ‘Tighten the cord around his neck’ by Andrew Bogle tells the familiar story of the Lindow Man from a very different perspective.
You can pick up a copy of ‘Lost and Found’ from the Chester University site.