BOOK REVIEW: ‘Unthology 8’, Edited by Ashley Stokes & Robin Jones

Unthology 8
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Unthology 8 is another fine entrance for fans of the short story, or people waiting to be converted. These are stories that show the variety that exists in literary fiction. Stories ranging from absurdist to realer than we’d like to admit.

The collection starts with an introduction by editor Ashley Stokes, detailing the difference between an Unthology and an anthology. Stokes’ funny but insightful introduction shows us that Unthology is conceived by love, as well as giving the reader a taste of what to expect. By the time we move passed it and onto the first story, we are ready for what awaits us. Eager, excited.

There are no weak links in Unthology 8, just stories that will resonate with the reader more than others depending on their taste. For example, Martin Monahan’s The Toasted Cheese Sandwich of Babel follows a science experiment being funded by the creator of a Toasted Cheese Sandwich franchise, and is equal parts poetic as it is humorous. Away from the melted centre we move to the cold wiring of Dan Malakin’s I, Crasbo, which shows us the journey of a robot butler once he is free from the confines of his master, and what a robot with advanced processing can accomplish in a prejudiced society.

Unthology 8 Sarah Dobbs

Stokes states in his introduction that he is a fan of subtle humour in Unthology and this is clear in Damon King’s Cuts, which follows a prisoner watching his two cell mates fight about the best way to cut a sandwich. It’s not all sandwiches that keeps the joy going, however. As closing the book is Victoria Briggs’ A Beautiful Noise, which takes us through a corporate music show, when a man wants a connection in an industry that is dying out and moving online. Though perhaps readers would equally find the addiction to jigsaws instead of relationships in Laura Darling’s 10,000 Tiny Pieces more up their street, as we start out confused but quickly grow to see how fragile relationships truly are, and that passion doesn’t have to be a person to make us realise something is missing.

Unthology 8 never attempts to outsmart us or leave us in the literary dust. Instead each story is an attempt to show us what good writing can do. It’s a book created and full of stories that are written for a love of writing, to show us how we can feel uncomfortable, smile, laugh, love and feel sad, and sometimes all of these things happen in the same story. Know that Unthology 8 isn’t one main meal that would be hit or miss depending on your taste, but instead think of it as 16 delicious starters to see which takes your fancy. Only thing is, they’re all so enjoyable that you know next time you see an Unthology on a menu, you won’t help but be able to order.

9/10

Summary

A diverse and exciting foray into the collection that’s becoming renowned for representing the best of the short story.