One of our great and powerful leaders (okay, University Creative Writing Lecturers) has released his first collection of short stories. We like to think that we inspired him, improved his writing ability, pushed him to succeed even. (However in reality, he was probably pretty talented before arriving at the University).
Michael Stewart has had previous success with his novels ‘King Crow’ and ‘Café Assassin’ along with his poetry collection, ‘Couples’. The new short story collection named ‘Mr Jolly’ is set to propel the award winning author further in to a sparkling career.
There are 15 stories within ‘Mr Jolly’ and all have a compelling insight into the human condition. This collection gives a glimpse in to seemingly ordinary peoples’ lives as they fight off monkey invasions, pick their lives up after divorce and do some pretty strange things with marshmallows. These small key holes in to the way different people live and how we function as a society leaves similarly a little, and a lot to the imagination.
Love, loss, identity, relationships, loneliness and elation are just some of the themes that are explored in this fantastic collection of tales from the human race. With such a wide variety of people and stories, it would be difficult to find at least one story you did not enjoy.
Some stand out stories for me were ‘The Butterfly on the Ceiling’ which is the tale of a woman exposing her identity and looking for acceptance. The telling of the story was unusual and made you invest in these characters you only knew for a few pages. Another stand out for me was ‘The Black Man and The White’ Man. Even though half way through reading this story I could imagine how it was going to end, my stomach still turned as I read the final page. There isn’t another author out there that could create such interesting stories like Michael does.
The most successful part of Mr Jolly is the fact that everyone is guaranteed to find a story they connect with. Not all of the stories will be for everyone, ‘Already Morning’ just was not for me as a reader, but the writing drew me in, made me reread it to find something that I would like about it. His writing makes you want to love everything in the book.
It’s been a long time since I read a short story, none were keeping me interested in the small bursts of fiction. ‘Mr Jolly’ drew me back in to that world and made me want to read again. Support the authors that grade you(!) and I highly recommend that if you pick up one collection in the next year, pick up ‘Mr Jolly’.