A review by R J Dent
William Wood’s new short story collection, Stories for Sale, is very courageous and very entertaining in its diversity: its genres range from realism to fantasy to naturalism; from science fiction to humour to erotica… while some of the stories readily fall into no recognisable category.
Locations change rapidly: we move from Ghana to Norway to Sussex to Sudan to London to India to Ireland – and we also visit a number of places that appear on no known map.
The twenty-six stories are all short – ‘An End to Hitchhiking’ is eleven pages long; ‘Ave Vagina’ is just over two pages long, but William Wood knows that although size is important, content is more so… and all of the stories deliver far more than they promise.
‘The Patrol’ is a war story that examines the caution-heroism dichotomy and different types of bravery; ‘That Bloody Buggy’ looks at how the elderly find modern contraptions challenging; ‘A Song for India’ is a romance – in the proper sense of the word; ‘A Heroine of Telemark’ is a Norway-based erotic story, in which Marit and her sister, Lisa, dupe Marit’s husband into infidelity, in a desperate attempt to rejuvenate the husband and wife’s sexual relationship.
In ‘An End to Hitchhiking’ an English expatriate is pressured into accepting unwanted and unexpected responsibility. William Wood presents the conflict inherent within the moral dichotomy – and allows it to be resolved satisfactorily. Carnivore’ is a science fiction story set in London in 2051. Social eating is forbidden, so the two main characters, Fanny and Lenko, decide to break the law – for their own reasons, as is revealed in the ending, which is worthy of the ending of one of Roald Dahl’s Tales of the Unexpected.
In ‘Bottle’, a young woman discovers that the natural world is an effective antidote to her troubled relationship; ‘Letters from a Diplomat’ is a humorous epistolary story, with each of the eight letters to a diplomat’s replacement becoming more and more preposterous and demanding. ‘For all I Care’ is gallows humour at its best. It’s a bestial American Psycho; its cackling black comedy masks a number of serious issues.
‘The Rendezvous’ is written ‘with apologies to Samuel Beckett’ and it is an imagined back-story for Waiting for Godot; ‘A Daughter and a Son’ is a story set in Nazi-occupied Norway; ‘The Happy Ever After’, ‘The Lost Bag’ and ‘The Rendezvous’ are all set in countries of the imagination.
William Wood’s Stories for Sale is a diverse, entertaining and insightful collection of stories. Some of the stories have appeared in prize-winning anthologies or in the small press magazines and journals. Stories for Sale makes these wonderful stories available to a wider readership.
William Wood’s website:
Stories for Sale:
Stories for Sale by William Wood
A review by R J Dent