Am going to wax lyrical for a moment or two about Silverfish New Writing 6 which I thoroughly enjoyed - and it seems to me that the standard of writing in this latest anthology is the highest yet.
The Silverfish New Writing series gives many local writers their first experience of being published (myself among them). And while many still snipe that the writers should be paid for their efforts beyond the free copies they receive (something I don't dispute) - I feel that the very fact that writers manage to get their work into an edited collection of this kind, and in competition with a couple of hundred others (many from overseas), has real meaning.
(The closing date for stories for Silverfish New Writing 7 is March 31st. Details here. ).
SNW6 is edited by local academic Dipika Mukherjee, who also co-edited The Merlion and the Hibiscus, Penguin's very interesting collection of Malaysian and Singaporean short stories which was published back in 2002.
The stories I liked best in the collection were: Dumb Dumb by Rebecca Chew - who really manges to get inside the skin of a disillutioned adolescent boy, with very comic results; Addiction by Wena Poon (she's thoroughly entertaining, her characters so engaging - I want a whole book from this lady!); Bonsai Monkey by Arthur Goh (a beautifully observed slice of Malaysian life, with a very satisfying ending); and of course Saras' story Dey Raju (charming and funny... and I feel a personal connection to it because it was born on a night when we wrote together).
I also very much enjoyed In God's Belly (an extract from a novel in progress) by Thaatchaayini Kanantu, Nurfa-izah Tubi's poignant Ever After, and The Swamp Creek by Nadiyah Elias. All I can say is ... more, please!
Farting Frank by precociously good 17 year old Colin Gan is silly fun, and O Thiam Chin (remember his struggles to get published?) weaves a very dark tale in Creation. I was happy to find a story from Peter Brown (Dysfunction), whom I've known for years as a singer songwriter. Here he puts a human face on local social problems with a convincing cast of characters. (Peter will be reading this saturday at Sek San's.) Hi, I'm MS by Arun Subramaniam was unusual - a story told from the viewpoint of a disease!
What didn't work quite so well for me: Round Trip by Angelia Poon (well-written, good characters, but too involved for a piece of short fiction); The Prince of Frogs by Craig Cormick (clever structure but at the expense of real character development - and a bit self-conscious); and The Kampong by Randolph Williams (messy structure, a bit of a white-man's fantasy piece).
I guess, though, that every reader will have different favourites - as I found when I edited Collateral Damage. And that's the great thing about a collection like this -it's like a box of chocolates which you can dip into and extract what you fancy*.
The book can be found in most of the local bookstores and it is also available my mail order from Raman's site.
And if any of these writers drop by this blog and would like to do a reading later in the year ... consider yourself invited.
(Just a thought - if life's a box of chocolates, why do I end up with all the nuts?)