I ordered the Mini Shots box set (issues #1-10) from Vignette Press a little while back. Mini Shots are cute single short stories you can pop into your pocket or bag and they’re all by emerging Australian authors. I’ve read three so far — they are very good public transport companions. If you’re scared of short stories, these booklets could be a good introduction as the stories are very accessible, though a bit unpolished at times. These little books are a great and inexpensive way to support local authors. Also, the ‘mini’ format is a fantastic way to let the character of a short story shine, unobscured by collection-mates.
Each of the stories is quite different. ‘Coda’ by Simon Groth is about the relationship which develops between Astrid, a fledgling nurse, and Martin Finn, a patient with ‘locked-in syndrome’, which leaves him unable to communicate except for a complicated system of eye movements. Martin’s frustration at being unable to communicate extensively finds a receptive balm in Astrid’s willingness to assist him. Groth does a nice job of splitting the narrative between Astrid and Martin, making them both sympathetic and real.
Emmett Stinson’s ‘Something So Helpless’ takes a look at life and death in Washington. David and Steve find it difficult to confront the issues posed by a mewling kitten left by its mother out the front of their house. Stinson uses this scenario to portray a city, rent by violence and overtaken by consumerism, whose inhabitants maintain a practised (or feigned) nonchalance towards the cruelty of urban life. This story probably worked the least well for me, partly because the characters weren’t immediately differentiable, which is crucial if you’re only going to do 1500 words. I liked it more on a second flick-through, though.
Mini Shot #3 is Sarah Jansen’s ‘Dragon Dust’, an elegantly written fantasy story. Velvet is a busy, lively, loving mother with four children, a husband and a crotchety mother-in-law. Her everyday life in a country town is so beautifully and gently described by Jansen that the foreshadowing of the town’s problems with an old enemy is really able to build up to an affecting end. The title may put off non-fantasy readers, you know, two types of people in the world: likes reading about dragons/doesn’t. I’m unabashedly in the ‘likes’ camp, so take your advice advisedly.
Looking forward to getting to the others; it feels really nice getting one of these out of my bag at the beginning of a train trip and putting it away, finished, by the time I get home.