Unthology 7 edited by Ashley Stokes and Robin Jones

This is my first collection in the Unthology series and I’m pleased to say that it lives up to its hype. Unthology 7 is a coherent, interesting and challenging collection of short fiction. There will definitely be a story here for you.

You might join recession office workers and obsess over spiders living outside a skyscraper (‘Spiders’ by David Martin). You may enjoy imagining what it would be like to witness your own funeral (‘Green by Roelof Bakker) or kill with homeopathy (‘The Morning Person’ by Adrian Cross). You might like to contemplate the two sides of a love story (‘On the truth and lies of the love story’ by Charlie Hill) or consider how teenage difficulty plays out in later life (‘Open Windows’ by Debz Hobbs-Wyatt and ‘The Harp and the Thorn Tree’ by Amanda Oosthuizen).

I think my favourite story is ‘Free Hardcore’ by Dan Powell. There is a real beauty in how he wields the power of the unspoken and the magic of the image – something the short story can do so effectively – creating a jewel of a story that feels finished and polished but continues to provoke thought.

Overall, there is a tendency to lean towards the flatulent (to quote from ‘Green’ by Roelof Bakker whose story isn’t in the least flatulent itself), but this tendency also means a leaning towards a desire for fresh expression and a longing to ring new meaning from the paltry selection of words at our disposal. It’s the kind of collection that inspires a desire to do some creative writing and that is possibly one of the best things anthologies can do. Ashley Stokes and Robin Jones have put together a cracked collection that encourages me to read more from the authors they’ve selected.

Next week, I’m reading A Death in the Family by Knausgaard.