Had an interesting experience this week of watching an “as live” review of The Ephemera taking shape as it was being read. The reviewer was the very kind and legendary DF Lewis, and the review appeared story-by-story over a four day period.
When you assemble a collection of short stories there are many considerations that affect the choice of the stories and the order in which they are presented. You want to include stories that you think resonate with each other and you want to place them in an order that on one hand creates a natural flow, but on the other hand ensures enough variation of pace, length and tone to keep the reader from getting bored. But of course the problem is that we’re talking about stories that were written over a period of ten years, and they vary greatly in polish, execution, theme and voice. When we chose the stories for The Ephemera I thought we did a pretty good job of making the stories seem of a piece, but you can’t guarantee how readers are going to interpret your choices; if the suggested resonances are as apparent to others as they are to you. You just have to hope.
Which made Des’s steadily accumulating review so fascinating to follow. What I found interesting was the connections he made between the stories. I won’t go into details, but some are definitely there (yes, a lot of these stories feature rain, but I do live in Glasgow, and The Codsman – which Des says felt like a coda – was the only original story in the book), while others I’m not sure I see at all. Which is great, because reviewers very rarely give such a raw account of their immediate impressions of a book.
Which is why I loved reading Des’s account.