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22 January 2012

published by Whortleberry Press, January 2012. trade-paperback. Reviewed by Steve Johnson.

This is a nice little book, well presented, attractive cover, competently edited, and with mostly well-chosen stories. A couple were weak, notably The Bouquet, which was more a slice-of-life than a real story (remember beginning, middle, end, actual plot?) slightly clumsy, and rather too twee for my taste. Reading this anthology and noting which stories Lyn liked was interesting. My own favorites had to be Child-Trim and Jenny, both went in a direction not immediately obvious, and with Child-Trim I really liked the way the author used emails to carry the story. Jenny too was clever, nicely rounded ending of exactly the right length, and satisfying to this reader.
After them I enjoyed Lyn’s story and one by another kiwi, (Kiss the Frog) as well as The Love of Jacob Bleek, and My Teddi – the Oedipus influence there was subtle but clear and just sufficient to make the story. I enjoyed this anthology enough to go to Lyn’s “author copy” shelves and borrow several more Whortleberry anthologies to read. I find that Lyn’s taste and mine are almost opposite, she preferred the stories by Alyson Cresswell, Janett Grady, Ken Staley, Elizabeth Creith, and Sherry Chancellor, but as they say, that’s what makes horse races.
And a final note. I found this anthology proficiently bound, presented, and well laid out. However I saw a letter in Whortleberry Forum that said otherwise, based on the contributor receiving his print copy in poor condition and apparently claiming that the editor had chosen to send a spoiled one. Have his dealings with the editor led him to believe she’s an idiot, and a miser who, rather than waste a ruined copy, has insultingly sent it to a contributor?
Writers don’t return to a venue where they’re so treated, and no sensible editor would give them that impression. Just as no editor would continue to accept a writer who has shown his open disbelief in the editor’s professionalism. It’s always better to inquire privately about such events and accept a logical explanation. This very silly email will hurt the writer far more since most contributors, knowing the editor’s professional integrity, will accept her version of events, and I would expect other editors who see it, or who are told about it, to be reluctant to draw upon themselves similar personal attacks.

1 Comment »

  1. Steve –

    As the author of “Child-Trim”, I am thrilled that my story was your favorite in Jean’s “Strange Valentines” anthology. Your analysis was succinct and on-target.

    And I agree with you about the person who accused Jean of sending out a ragged, falling-apart book.

    Thanks again!

    Marilyn K. Martin

    Comment by Marilyn K. Martin — 11 February 2012 @ 11:09

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