Most of my reading is done to and from work on a South West Trains train from Hampton to Kingston-upon-Thames. The journey takes less than 15 minutes each way so it doesn’t take a genius to work out that I end up with approximately half an hour reading time per day. In a good week that gives me 2.5 hours reading a day. My preferred diet is short stories because I have been known to finish a whole one in one direction. This happy state affairs is usually due to the late arrival of a train. The day that someone was taken ill on a train in the Wimbledon area may not have been good news for the patient but my weekly reading quota went up considerably.
On the track at the moment is the Virago publication, SUCH DEVOTED SISTERS edited by Shena Mackay
The short stories in the collection are:
Jean Stafford, In the Zoo; Edna O’Brien, The Connor Girls; Mary Flanagan, White Places; Sylvia Townsend Warner, The Quality of Mercy; Marilyn Duckworth, A Game of Pretend; Bani Basu, Aunty; Janet Frame, Keel and Kool; Anjana Appachana, Incantations; Nann Morgenstern, Sorority; Cynthia Rich, My Sister’s Marriage; Elizabeth Jolley, Five Acre Virgin; Merle Collins, My Sister Cherish; Fiona Cooper, The Sisters Hood; Dyan Sheldon, Day and Night; Louisa May Alcott, From Little Women and Good Wives; Wajida Tabassum, Hand-me-Downs; Eliabeth Gaskell, from Cranford; Georgina Hammick, Tales from the Spare Room; Marjorie Barnard, habit; Katherine Mansfield, The Daughters of the Late Colonel; Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market.
You may spot a few extracts rather than actual short stories and I feel cheated by this. I found that I couldn’t read the Little Women extract. Was this because I KNEW it wasn’t a short story or didn’t it feel complete? The same feeling came upon me with the piece from Cranford. If I hadn’t known they weren’t complete would I have just accepted them and read them without these misgivings?
My bookmark is currently resting in the middle of Katherine Mansfield’s, The Daughters of the Late Colonel. After that there only remains Christina Rosetti’s “Goblin Market” which I have never really read before. I remember my mother’s copy of a book of poems with a sepia and brown swirly cover. I loved the illustrations in that book and that is all I remember about Goblin Market. Will I feel that including a poem in a book of “short stories” is as unethical as printing parts of a “proper” book or will I look on it as an unexpected treat for reaching the end of the line?