Sunday, 25 June 2017
Listening for Water and other stories
From the cordial, formal and ludicrous (the authors' words!) interaction between the female protagonist and the old man in the van (complete with his dirty long johns) in the first story, Hitchhiker to the paternalistic eye of Lord Russell as he watches over everyone from children to street people, to tourists, students and office workers, as they are involved in the Square Dance.
The stories are all real. That is not to say that they are all guaranteed to be 100% genuine incidents, but that they all pass what editor and writer Richard Ingrams used to describe as the "smell test."
They all smell real, having been lovingly and carefully crafted by a master of the short story, Sandra Wallman.
However... however, there might be more than that to some of the stories as they are based upon genuine incidents and are inspired by the lives of people she knows. Names and some fine details have been changed to protect the innocent.
A randy. elderly man, the honouring of the death of a neighbour in France, the horrific moment in time captured forever in the minds of a group of people in San Francisco who witness the plunge of a girl from the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. (Reviewers' note: At least 1600 people have thrown themselves from the bridge, although the true figure is unknowable for several reasons.)
The stories are all perfectly formed, microcosms of life.
Sandra Wallman is Professor Emerita in Anthropology at University College in London, and her anthropological eye has been put to very good use with her first collection of short stories. Hopefully she will be writing more, soon.
It's published by Matador at £7.99 and can be purchased at https://goo.gl/wdCFDG.