THE UNIVERSAL STORY by Ali Smith
”Mairead didn’t like English — it had no proper answers —“
I may read this story that will be a series of story beginnings formed into partial palimpsests not unlike a game of Consequences about an ordinary house fly and about all the copies — collected in England’s now diminishing secondhand bookshops — of The Great Gatsby as Gestalt. If I say any more about its plot and its human characters, that would spoil the ingenious revelation of this Ali Smith story, especially in the light of what I often do with fiction works by trying to gather their ideas together and then floating the result into precarious existence as my proffered proper answer.
TROLL BRIDGE by Neil Gaiman
”There are books I haven’t read yet.”
So, I am not ready for my final visit to Troll Bridge, however big-headed I feel my head to be. I need to read more and pass what I read on to you with my ideas attached. This story is about someone who is not me, someone who thinks about how many railways vanished in the sixties. Yet I was there at the time alongside Dr Beeching, but now, like this story itself, I am unsure where the old universal railtrack path led so lonelily, so it’s always a surprise when I come to Troll Bridge again, and never, unlike the character in this story, accompanied by someone else. I did not like The Stranglers much anyway. Never dreamed of fairyland, never had a typical teenage life at all. I still live where I live with my wife even at such an advanced age as I have now reached, and I wonder when the trail to the Troll’s finally ‘eating my life’ will entail it reading any unread books and to tell you about them on my behalf. I never read this story before. So it got under the wire for reading, I guess, just in time. Saves the Troll the trouble.
Something otherworld about this story, perhaps without it ever knowing where or what that other world was or is. The rocks still glow like rainbows in the dark, though.
Consecutive reviews today in this book’s context here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/12/26/the-penguin-book-of-the-contemporary-british-short-story/
Above image of me, in 1994, by Camille Gabrielle