ShortbreadStories: The Blog

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Here,There, Somewhere and Elsewhere

/by Fiona Smith/

Forward:

Once upon a time in a place far, far, away from Dundee (i.e Glasgow) Prince Pilcher became very grumpy indeed. He had spent a wonderful afternoon listening to lots of special storytelling elves (the Scottish Association of Writers) and he wanted these wonderful stories to be shared all around the world, inspiring new writers to write their own. Unfortunately evil ogres (publishers) ran Storytelling Land, and they planned on banishing these magical tales to the lonely Island of Bottom Drawers for all eternity because the ogres saw no profit in stories which were short.

Our brave hero fought on to create a safe haven for all these small tales, a place where stories could thrive and inspire others, populating the world once more with wonderfully crafted short stories.

And so our story ends or does it…

Recently a little ogre called Cargo was born. He was different from the other ogres and he saw there was something very special missing in storytelling land – short stories.

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I recently had the pleasure to attend a book launch in Glasgow. Now I go to quite a few book launches (after all there’s free wine), but this one in particular excited me. ‘Elsewhere’ is a magical collaboration between Cargo of Scotland, McSweeney’s of the USA, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and features brand new work from fifty pretty awesome authors.

As you all probably know I’m a short story nut, (let’s be honest – I’d have to be to work for ShortbreadStories) so when I first heard about ‘Elsewhere’ I was very excited. Finally publishers who not only recognised that there is an actual market for short stories, but who also accept it is a legitimate form of writing. Then I actually saw the collection, and I fell in love.

Cargo, and friends, haven’t just shown other publishers that they can publish a profitable collection of short stories, they’ve shown them how to publish the collection. The four books are entitled, Here, There, Somewhere and EverywhereThey are beautifully bound and perfectly designed by McSweeney’s. These are the types of books you just want to inhale, while caressing the pages lovingly with your fingertips. The type of books you proudly showcase right in the middle of your bookshelf (despite throwing your carefully alphabeticalised system out of whack). Ultimately the design of these books explains why physical books should, and do, still exist. 

I had the pleasure to hear readings from two of the authors featured in the book on Elsewhere Day. First up was Jen Hadfield. She began by itinerating that she was a poet by trade and was new to prose. She admitted that she found the story a little awkward to read aloud and often found she changed the piece as she read it. As someone who has a produced quite a few audio stories, I found this very interesting indeed (but more on the difference between short stories and podcasts another day).  She remained sitting while she read, and I was transported from the loud, airy environment of the Waterstones’ cafe to an intimate study. I felt as if she was importing me with valuable and vital information, while we sat doing something very respectable, like drinking brandy. Her voice, soft and inviting, gave everyone in the room the impression she was talking only to them. The next reading couldn’t have been more different. Anne Donovan announced she would stand as she had to get into character. Her humorous short story was about three Glaswegian painters and decorators going to Italy for the first time. Her story and impressions reminded me fondly of family, while she perfectly encapsulated the feeling of going on holiday to somewhere so far from home.

The difference, not only in the stories themselves but, in the way each story was told, shows just how varied a collection ‘Elsewhere’ is. I’ve talked a lot in the past about the transportational quality of short stories, and their ability to take us anywhere, to other countries, to other worlds, and even into the minds of other people. The Elsewhere Collection has achieved this with style and panache. 

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Afterward:

And so little ogre Cargo and Prince Pilcher had helped change Storytelling Land forever. The village people of Shortbread City rejoiced once more, safe in the knowledge that short stories would continue to prosper. 

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One thought on “Here,There, Somewhere and Elsewhere

  1. Awesome! Can’t wait to check those out!

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