Hindsight 20/Something is a chronicle of quarter-life crises-stories of moving to the midwest and losing a lover, losing your mind and changing your pronouns, renting a house with a urinal in the living room, coming out , moving back in with your parents. It's a book-shaped living room of honest friends -two nurses, an architect, a med student, two poets, a teacher, a software engineer, the depresses, the wandering, the anxious-all in their 20s. All here telling you that it's probably not okay right now. And that's okay.
543Austin Beaton is a poet essayist 20something who studied regret at the University of Oregon, where he was a finalist for the Walter and Nancy Kidd Memorial Writing Competition in Poetry. His work has appeared in Boston Accent, Porridge Magazine, Angel City Review and elsewhere. He lives near the Pacific Ocean and gives nicknames.
Hindsight 20/Something is a response to that conversation young 20somethings keep having at happy hour, over FaceTime, alone in their brain: 'I don't know what I'm doing. It's all so crazy. My job's fine, I guess. I want to move. I want a different life, but I'm not sure how to change it and even if I could, so what?'
Being in your 20's is seen as a golden time for many -youth, good looks, energy, nights out - there's a lot to enjoy and a lot to be thankful for. However, it's also a time of great uncertainty for many people - living away from home, outside of the structure that school and university provides, and faced with bills, jobs, relationships, along with the many expectations that family and society can place on an individual at that age.
Here poet and writer Austin Beaton collects the stories of a wide range of 20-somethings - covering a huge range of emotions and providing a collection that's moving, relatable and immediate - and brilliantly conveys the maelstrom of feelings and urges that can be part of being in your 20's. Family, Love, Anxiety, Depression, Drink, Drugs, Religion, Work, Music - all are covered in recollections that range from a few paragraphs long to short stories of a few pages. What's fantastic about this collection is that, whilst the stories are clearly carefully collated, they're not over-edited - leaving a certain amount of rawness and individuality to shine through in each story, making all very readable, and offering a sense of immediacy and connection to the individuals sharing their stories and journeys with the reader.
As someone only just out of my 20's, I found this a collection that's both relatable and assuring - with all the concerns and emotions explored here, I find it impossible to think that any reader wouldn't find connections and similarities with the content.
Original, immediate and necessary -this is a well curated content that's appealing, rewarding, and ultimately comforting as it enables the reader to find connections and companionship in the recollections of others.
Discover the mystery of the two-headed rose and many more Strange Secrets in this new collection of extraordinary stories by Mike Russell. ‘It can’t be real.’ ‘But it is.’ Strange Secrets invites you to discover the magical and the marvellous. Startlingly inventive and constantly entertaining, these unique, vital and vividly realised stories will take you to places you have never been before. Strange Secrets is Mike Russell’s third short-story collection.
Author Mike Russell was born in 1973. He grew up in the small village of Pulborough in the South of England. As a child, he enjoyed daydreaming, art, and writing strange stories. As an adult, he enjoys daydreaming, art, and writing strange stories.
I'm not always the biggest fan of short stories - I always tend to find that they bring to life interesting characters and ideas, yet finish with them too quickly - leaving me for a longform explanation and lamenting the fact that I have to move onto another tale and meet another group of characters. Books like "Strange Secrets" though, have begun to change my mind over recent years - and Mike Russell's skill lies in crafting strange, surreal and transportive tales that work brilliantly as short stories - glimpses into worlds that provide the reader with fresh emotions and ideas every time. The ability to provoke a reader into examining their thoughts and feelings whilst also thrilling and entertaining them is a rare one - but one Mike Russell clearly has and utilises with great skill. I'm very excited to see what he does next....
Mysteries. Ideas uncovered. Strange creatures. Forbidden words, used anyway. Ideas that scare us, make us angry, wistful, ashamed. The importance of a tiny, electric moment. All this pulled into the light, revealed by the imagination and bravery of these writers. They bring to life the sound of an act of charity; the delicious strut of a woman the day after taking a new lover; the one person in university halls who notices the stealth details of a cheating couple.
The stories and poetry here - some long and unfolding, others short like heart glugs of vodka - honour these unsung moments. They also showcase the voices of the habitually unseen - writing of fear translated into bigotry; tribalism and the violnce it causes; the patient suffering of a drag queen, watching his mother deny him to her death bed; the racist imprint of a father on a daughter's love life. The importance of finding the right voice and language. The colloquial, the vernacular, the dialect, the accents. The 'bad' language.
Welcome to "The Unseen". We hope it illuminates you
I have an odd relationship with short stories and articles - I've read huge amounts that I've massively enjoyed, but when in a bookshop it's unlikely that I'll pick any up - my mind always more drawn to engrossing myself in a long-form novel, or delving deep into the pages of a weighty history book. However, Fincham Press - the publishing house part of the University of Roehampton were kind enough to send me a copy of "The Unseen" - their latest collection of short stories, flash fiction, poetry and non-fiction, and settling down to read I found myself blown away by the staggering amount of content and talent on display in this collection.
I'd underestimated just how transportive a collection of short writings like this could be - but the volume of content means that the reader is rapidly transported from place to place - be it the American Desert or University Halls. The tone rapidly differs from piece to piece, with stories ranging from dark and macabre through to light and funny - ensuring that the reader is kept on their toes and engaged at every turn of the page. However the main thing I was impressed by was the sheer quality of these stories - the writing is at a level that's consistently high - and impressed me far more than many collections of writing I've read by established authors. It's clear that the University of Roehampton has a remarkable creative writing department, and Fincham Press is well placed to promote and share their work. It's always exciting to read genuinely new and original writing, and I have little doubt that some of the authors featured in this collection of "The Unseen" will go on to remarkable things in the years to come.
A diverse, haunting and humorous collection of short fiction, Simon Van Booy offers a collection of stories highlighting how human genius can emerge through acts of compassion. With characters ranging from an eccentric film director, an aging Cockney bodyguard, the teenage child of Nigerian immigrants, a divorced amateur magician and a Beijing street vendor, Tales of Accidental Genius takes the reader on many, incredible journeys, and conveys more in a few pages than many authors would struggle to do in a whole novel.
I’m a fan of Simon Van Booy – I read his most recent novel, Father’s Day whilst on holiday, and found myself moved, surprised, and impressed by his clear, unfussy prose. Whilst that was a fantastically engrossing read, his true talent shines out even more in this collection of short stories – most very short, but all inhabiting completely different characters with huge amounts of skill. It’s hard not to be moved – The Goldfish almost had me in tears, a simple tale of devotion and duty, it tugs at the heartstrings without once slipping into sentimentality, and the other shorter stories manage the same thing too – evocative and moving, but never too much or too overdrawn, perfect in their quiet simplicity
However, Van Booy saves the best for last – as he changes style completely, and transports the reader to Beijing for the second half of the book. Here the reader is told a story in traditional Chinese fable style, and it’s one that I will remember for a long, long time – one about family, love, luck, money and happiness that I’m eager to read again as I found myself completely transported – taken far from smoggy London and deep into Beijing and the Chinese countryside, rooting for the characters to succeed more than I have in a very long time.
There is a huge amount of skill involved in crafting these stories so perfectly – all perfectly formed and ready to eat like a delicious morsel of food, Simon Van Booy is a true master, and one whose work I’m very eager to sample more of in the future. Huge thanks to the publisher for the copy.