Short fiction as a form is enjoying increasing popularity as readers search for their fiction fixes and The Lost of Syros, a collection of sixteen short stories by Emma Timpany, is for me, an example of just why the short story is celebrating something of a heyday.
The perfect companion to my morning commute, this intriguing collection is engaging from cover to cover. Before I had even opened the book, I found the cover art a transporting visual device which evoked thoughts of escaping the hum-drum British weather in favour of what I was soon to find out were the rich and raw locations which are the backdrop to Timpany’s works.
The stories contained within the collection are skilfully crafted delights which demonstrate a precision and decisiveness behind every word appearing on the page, a technical style which is reminiscent of modernist writers such as Katherine Mansfield. Interestingly,Mansfield’s presence is echoed in the simultaneous efficacy and richness of the writing and also in the use of her biography to provide subject matter for some of the stories such as ‘Painting Katherine’. For me, the result of Timpany’s decision to use Mansfield in this way added to the strength of the writing itself lends a haunting quality to the work which stays with you and provokes thought, long after the final page of the last story is devoured.
What I enjoyed most about this book was the elegant simplicity to the narratives which pushed me to consider more than just the words on the page. From simple questions like what happened to the characters beyond the story (a little game I love playing and which works perfectly with short fiction) to those of a profoundly philosophical nature which had me re-evaluating everything from the way that I perceive images as they are presented to me to at times, belief systems and even modes of thinking. I found this collection to be insightful, not only in terms of the stories and characters Timpany has created, but also with regard to the writing process. What I learnt was that sometimes less is more and with this collection, you certainly get more than you anticipate! A thoroughly recommended read.
The Lost of Syros was published by Cultured Llama in 2015.