*I received a free ARC of this anthology with thanks to Justin and Nathan at Inkandescent. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Mainstream brings thirty authors in from the margins to occupy centre-page. Queer storytellers. Working class wordsmiths. Chroniclers of colour. Writers whose life experiences give unique perspectives on universal challenges, whose voices must be heard. And read.
Emerging writers are being placed along-side these established authors―Bidisha, Elizabeth Baines, Gaylene Gould, Golnoosh Nour, James Maker, Jonathan Kemp, Julia Bell, Keith Jarrett, Kerry Hudson, Kit de Waal, Juliet Jacques, Neil Bartlett, Neil McKenna, Padrika Tarrant, Paul McVeigh and Philip Ridley.
Mainstream is a stunning anthology of own voice short stories, containing fifteen stories from established authors, and fifteen from lesser-known names.
The only theme of the collection is just that – that the authors all have life experiences of living in the margins and at the edges – which means that the collection is one of the most diverse I have ever read, in every sense of the word. Each writer produces their own, unique story, unrelated to those that come before or after. You will find elements of fantasy, sci fi, horror, romance – any aspect of the human experience you can name may be found within these pages.
What unites these stories, beyond their authors, is that each is exceptionally well-written and represents a small, perfectly-captured moment in time. These are not stories to be gobbled down greedily all in one sitting, or galloped through thoughtlessly on the run. These are stories to be savoured, to take time over, to absorb mindfully and feel under your skin. They are stories to be returned to again and again, each time finding a new detail, a new flavour, that you missed before.
My personal favourite was the surreal fever-dream of ‘Sunday’ by Philip Ridley, but actually there wasn’t a single entry that I didn’t enjoy and admire, and nearly every story lingered with me after reading, leaving me mulling over the depths and the details, the emotions and experiences.
I recommend this anthology to anyone who enjoys the short story format, or who would like to try an exemplary sample of such stories. Also to anyone who has ever read a story and felt unrepresented, misunderstood, left out. Anyone who wants to broaden their horizons and experience a different perspective from their own familiar, comfortable daily view. And anyone who just loves a well-crafted story – there really is something for every palate!
I walk across the shingle to the scene of the crime—No, not across ‘shingle’. Gravel! I’m on a side street in East London, not a beach in Brighton. I wish I was on a beach in Brighton. The weather’s so hot, iguanas are falling from the trees. Not that East London has iguanas. Or has it? Everything changes so fast these days. You go to sleep in one world and wake up in—– Philip Ridley, ‘Sunday’ in
‘You can’t go beyond this point, sir!’
I’ve been stopped by a policeman.
Find more from Inkandescent at their website (where you can also view the
Mainstream trailer), or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Mainstream is available on Amazon right now!
Don’t forget to check out the other blog stops on the tour for more great reviews and content (see the poster below for details)!