“Some fine stories” – Waiting for the Gift, ed. Richard V Hirst

IMG_2022-7-25-193141If most of We Were Strangers, Confingo’s first music-inspired anthology, hovers around the Manchester area, this anthology visits other locations such as Paris and space, marking the ethereality of some of the Bowie songs and the instrumental tracks.

Where Nicholas Royle’s story in the Joy Division anthology re-ordered the original words of a Joy Division song, here the stories are more loosely linked to the original vinyl. There are some fine stories by Melissa Wan, Jen Calleja, and Wendy Erskine here.

My favourite is ‘Art Decade’ by Melissa Wan. The recount of a ghostly suicide is crammed with photographs, historical evidence, and a map. Ghostly presences themselves? Surprisingly, the dialogue between the ghost and Judy is light and almost affectionate, a difficult task given the dark events of the story:

“Judy dusted off her shoulder. You don’t disturb me, she said. I came looking. What are you looking for? Maybe you suspect the soles of your shoes were not made for these pavements. Great feats, low deeds, acrobatics… You’re lost, looking for a way out.

Judy smiled. No, she said. I’ve stopped looking for anything. And a way out to where, exactly?”

The story is filled with Orphean delicacy. It could be a future prize winner. Read it, again and again. I did. When will the first collection be ready?

Geographically, the authors are more dispersed as is their subject matter but some of the methods and range of the first volume are here – from the puzzling, illustrated story of Zoe McLean, through to social realism.

Any Cop?: Confingo is drawing in some of the newest and most vibrant writers in the short story form and again the book is produced to the highest standard. Long live the small publishers when they are as innovative as this.

Richard Clegg

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