As I write this, I am awaiting the arrival of the proof copy of Vortex: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Literary Anthology 2018. This means that its publication is imminent. With that in mind, I wanted to share some thoughts about why this particular anthology is so special.
Firstly, in the Editor’s Foreword I define ‘literary fiction’ as ‘fiction without barriers’. Unlike genre fiction, which by its nature is tied to various templates and forms, literary stories can do anything, go anywhere. And this is what we find in Vortex. There are so many variations and styles in the book that I can select stories at random to illustrate my point.
Holly Peterson’s ‘The Narrow Place’ takes us to the edge of our imaginations and makes us consider and perhaps pay closer attention to what is happening on those fringes; Shawn Klimek’s ‘A Taste of Friendship’, a complete contrast, is a humorous tale told from the perspective of someone completely oblivious of the effects that he is creating on others. A little further in and we have the masterful Carmen Baca’s Christian allegory, ‘Rey Salvador’, Mehreen Ahmed’s prose poetry in ‘At the Far End of the Alley’ and then Bill Swiggs’ tale which breaks and then repairs a family's heart, ‘Concrete’.
All of the stories are totally different from each other. Some, like RLM Cooper’s ‘the Vanishing of M. Renoir’, Susannah J. Bell’s ‘The Evolving’ and Jill Kiesow’s ‘Waiting’ are prose poetry, stories that you want to linger over, to study, to relish - while David Bowmore’s ‘Sins of the Father’ is a riveting thriller which physically increases your heart rate.
Some stories are experimental: Sam Morgan Phillips’ ‘Take My Breath Away’ is a startling attempt to defy the convention which says that writing a story in the second person should be avoided as it ‘doesn’t work’. Phillips proves that convention completely wrong - by the end of the first page you are gripped in an extraordinary way by the power of that viewpoint.
Some stories are impossible to categorise: Giuseppina Marino Leyland’s tale ‘Shards of Wisdom’ abandons all traditional sequencing and tells a story in ‘pieces’, not randomly or without structure, but entirely to underline the main point of the narrative.
I’ve left out many other gems; I can’t mention everyone. My point is that literary fiction lives and is thriving. It underlines my broader point, stated elsewhere many times, which is that there is no shortage of talent out there. I’m pleased to be providing some limited channels to allow that talent to shine.
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