Opus 22 – A Rhapsody of Short Fiction

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OPUS 22: A RHAPSODY OF SHORT FICTION - STORIES BY TWENTY-TWO NEW AUTHORSOPUS 22: A RHAPSODY OF SHORT FICTION – STORIES BY TWENTY-TWO NEW AUTHORS by Melius Scripto Press
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“A short story is like a kiss in the dark from a stranger.” Stephen King
Opus22 is an original anthology from the newly formed Melius Scripto Press, a small publisher born out of an International community of both experienced and emerging authors and editors. It’s an eclectic collection of stories, across genres and styles, with a common theme. The collection comprises of 22 stories. Each one is about or mentions the theme Piano.
From reminisiscence and regret to genuine horror this collection has been thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. I won’t review each story but my personal favorites and worthy of mentioning are

The poetic prose of Akira Fuyuno’s Chocolate Soup.

The Dystopian fantasy of Wayne Meyer’s Sonnet of the New Dawn.

The dry satire of Michelle Freson’s domestic noir, The Final Supper

The engrossing depths of Lazarus Gray’s The End of Love

The vivid and shocking imagery of Deacon Gray’s Requiem for a Liar

Despite choosing the above stories, I can honestly say I enjoyed every single one, despite length and genre. Some are steeped in nostalgia and romance, others are traditionally crafted in their genre. If you’re a reader that enjoys anthologies, you’re going to love Opus22.

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Supply & Demand

The car rolled up the gravel path. Wiping his hands in his leather apron, Dak sauntered over to the stove and put a pan of water on. He poured white spirits over his stained hands at the basin, and rubbed and old rag into the deep crevices.

‘Mornin Dak, a fine one it is too’

Dak nodded at him as he walked in to his usual spot at the back of the cave, out of the sun. He put a parcel and a letter on the desk and sat down.

‘There’s a few more orders for ya today. These things are gettin quite popular with folk, ya know’

Dak brought the tea to the table and sat down opposite to Jo. He didn’t look up as he poured the tea.

‘I’m running out of stock’

Jo tilted his head upward and took a deep breath in.

‘Well, ya know, supply and demand, and all that. There’s three more orders today, and that makes seven orders outstanding, isn’t it?’

Dak nodded.

‘I want you to know that I never kill any living creature to make these pieces. I respect the life that lived in every skull and every bone I find on this land’

Jo cleared his throat.

‘Oh sure, but- supply and demand Dak. There’s money to be made here and –

He snorted and omitted a jarring laugh that made Dak grimace. It faded once he realised he was the only one amused. He slurped his tea and put it down, looking sideways in thought before starting to talk again.

‘See, these rich folk don’t know what to be doing with their money Dak. It’s the new in- thing, if ya hear me. They want them on their mantles, they want to gift them to their friends on their birthdays, you know? They want them’

Dak stared passed Jo’s head at the wall behind him. He continued.

‘The mayor’s wife was looking for a nice big one. She’ll pay big bucks’

‘Big bucks: Big skull?’

‘Exactly’, Jo guffawed

’How big? As big as her husbands fat belly?’

‘Aw come on now Dak. I’m givin you an opportunity to make some money here! And you know, I earn a pittance with the National Post. Jenny’s wedding is coming up. It’s not easy to reach the level of affair she’s aspirin to’

Dak got up from the table and walked to his bench.

‘I’ll see what I can do. I’ll finish these two by tomorrow, and I’ll have a scout around today. It’s not the right season for roadkill or hawk prey, but I’ll look.

Jo stood up and wriggled his National Postal cap back on his fat head.

‘What about catching a few rabbits in a snare, Dak? Or even a deer for the mayor’s wife?’

Dak turned and walked towards Jo quickly. He stopped abruptly when their noses almost touched.

‘What did I just say?’

He walked back to his bench and stared at the wall until Jo walked out of the cave, past him and down the path to the van. That night Dak dreamed of the Stag. He had met him several times when running in the forest as a child. Each time, the stag had stopped in his tracks and stared into his eyes, penetrating him with an intense love that he’d never experienced again.

The following morning, he lay in bed and watched the sun slide further into the front of his cave before he jumped up and set to work. It didn’t take long as he’d seen his father do it time after time. As he raised the net and tested the ropes, he recalled the morning he had stood with the village looking up into the trees, watching the stag struggling hysterically in the net. A dart pierced his neck. Even once he had given up the stag kept his gaze until the life drained out of him.

Later, Dak stood at his bench and prepared his paints. A tiny skull of a bird sat in a delicate clamp in front of him. He heard the crackling stones under the tyres of the postal van. The van door shut loudly and Dak jumped. A few steps crunched on the gravel before he heard a howl.

‘Dak, what the fuck is this? Get me down right now you fucking weirdo’

Dak’s smile slowly widened.

‘Dak? Dak are you there? Oh come on!!!

A nice big skull.

He turned. There stood the Stag, staring into Dak’s eyes.

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Book Review: Small Island by Andrea Levy

Small IslandSmall Island by Andrea Levy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Set in 1948, both Hortense and Gilbert’s desire for living the dream in the ‘mother Country’ land them together in their struggle to make their way in a new World. This World is not the one they thought it was and it takes time to make sense of it all. Their lives intertwine with an English couple who are also stumbling blindly through the war and the aftermath, reassessing their own moral compasses
This is, quite frankly, the best novel I’ve read in some time. Insightful and full of revelations, Levy teaches us a lessons in misconceptions of identity. Along with learning some valuable British and Jamaican history, I rejoiced in such well written characters and was immersed in the evoking plot from start to finish.
Structurally, the novel was not ordered in a traditional way. Each chapter represented the perspective of one character. They were not divided equally nor in chronological order. No, they were strategically ordered in a way to reveal each characters past and how it effected their present circumstances.
I miss this book and would love to read about these characters further on in their lives.

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Memories from my balcony

City noises wail
like distant winds.
A washing machine spins
ferociously somewhere.
Birds are chirping
in the warm air.
As the breeze takes up
and takes hold,
the clothes are edgier now.
They are dancing
more erratically
Flying, Flitting, Flatting
in the high air.
A siren bleats far away;
there is nothing for me to do
except close my eyes
and be, in my tower,
on my balcony
in the City.

Closing my eyes
to be back.
Honking buses
The metro vibrates
under me.
Sun burning
my arms and nose,
free of clothes and rain.
Angry barks and cries
A dog is left alone
Smoke wanders up
Lovers talk on the phone
A toilet flushes.
Living close together
in pens, in the tower
But nothing gives me
pleasure like being
on my balconyBlacony
in the City.

Book Review: The Crooked House by Christobel Kent

The Crooked HouseThe Crooked House by Christobel Kent
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An old murder case is dug up despite nobody wanting to relive it. Alison goes back to her old hometown with a longing for the truth. A guilt ridden detective, and old friend with secrets and lots of locals intertwined in this mysterious past. Thirteen years previously, Esme’s family was gruesomely murdered while she hid in her attic room in the crooked house. The story dealt with her memories and the piecing together of what really happened.
It was haunting, tense and atmospheric from the start. Suspense hung at every corner, and the reader was left hanging throughout with new potential suspects.
From page 210 I began to get frustrated with the number of characters still involved in the main plot. The three brothers, old friends, the locals from the pub, friends back in London, and that didn’t even include her boyfriend Paul or the family of the wedding Alison was attending. I think the plot should have been narrower at this stage.
While Paul was involved in dark and suspect scenes and dialogue, my favourite character was Morgan. Despite being in the background she played a huge role in the story. There was always a desire to know more about her. The main characters were all believable and highly visual.
The flashbacks and dreams were written well. The reader was brought back in time and forward with ease and the story emerged in this fractured style of writing.
I would recommend this book to those who like to read crime and mystery. There are lots of hooks and intertwining subplots to keep the readers interest. I found the first half much more gripping. However, for me, over halfway through the book I found myself rushing through to get to the finish. I needed more suspense and less characters involved at that stage.

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The Gap by Ira Glass: some wise and inspiring words


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/85040589″>THE GAP by Ira Glass</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/frohlocke”>Daniel Sax</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Book Review: The Secrets of a Fire King by Kim Edwards

The Secrets of a Fire KingThe Secrets of a Fire King by Kim Edwards
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An elegant collection of short stories with unforgettable characters and engrossing plots.
The style is serene and a little slow moving in parts for me, but always worth the wait as each delves into the lives of people that are ostracized by society in some way.
The voices and points of view are beautifully developed from both strong female and male characters and this makes the collection a special one. The variation in plots, too, hold the interest for the reader. All stories have a lesson to learn although not all lessons are obvious. The need for some interpretation is done so well and seamlessly. There wasn’t one story I did not enjoy. My favourite collection of stories…TO DATE!

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