Saturday, 22 November 2014

No Need to Reply by Jodi Cleghorn

No Need to Reply by Jodi Cleghorn is a collection of flash stories. They are not speculative fiction — I felt that was important to say up front. For that reason, they are also not the kind of thing I usually read but they were a pleasant enough way to pass the time. The blurb summarises the theme of the collection better than I can:
Experimental in style, structure and form, the eight stories explore the pain and euphoria of finding your voice. From a man confronting the price of a lie and a woman wrestling with the legacy of her mortality, to a young girl lost in a war of misunderstandings, the collection delves into conversations that define the struggle to be heard.
This is actually a difficult form to review. I swore off individually reviewing flash stories (like I would a short story collection) last year which doesn't leave much to say. The stories are all flash pieces, of similar length and none are super-short short stories. They are also all some amalgamation of mood and character pieces, deftly balancing the two sides of that coin.

The stories are mostly sad, but for a variety of reasons. The opening and titular story, involving letters, was my favourite and a strong opening for the collection. In all her stories Cleghorn gradually reveals character and then deftly illuminates the situation, previously ambiguous. I did write a brief note for each story, mostly as a memory aid for myself and not as a review, which I include below in case you are interested.

I would recommend this collection to fans of contemporary fiction, particularly of the contemplative/literary variety. It's short on pages — how long could eight flash pieces really be? — but not on emotional heft. A thoughtful read.


No Need To Reply — Unopened letters

It Could Be — Friendship contemplation over a dirty sink

Squeeze Box — War veteran remembering his wife

Holding On — Woman visiting a lover in London

Olives — A woman’s conversation and contemplation over olives

Shuffling — A Tarot reading over Skype (or whatever)

Wishing, Happily Ever After — A day at the beach from a child's perspective

Closure — Basically what the title says (includes poem)

4 / 5 stars

First published: October 2014, eMergent Publishing
Series: No
Format read: ePub
Source: Purchased from author's website
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge

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