It’s thesis time, the final lap of my MA creative writing course. It’s a luxury yet also a necessity to read as part of my research for my creative portion, which I’m doing a collection of short stories.
O Thiam Chin has won numerous awards for his writing and his stories in this collection are diverse from modern to historical setting (Swordsman and The Last Voyage based on the enuch Zheng He), different genders for his protagonists, sexuality, and in three different points of view. Ann Patchett writes that short stories provide the revenue for risk experimenting and I agree.
The ten stories in this collection are very local (except for Zheng He). I had problem with one first person pov, when I mistakened the protagonist as a male (naturally equating with the writer’s gender) only to realize a few pages down in A Lost Boy that is a grandmother and not grandfather. Thus I understand now why my tutor insisted on a name for the protagonist even if written in first person pov.
When I met him a few days ago at a reading, he remembered me from years ago as the mother who had purchased two of his short stories books for her ten-year-old son, not exactly appropriate for a child. I asked about this book, as my son is now 18. He hesitated. I realised why when I read The Years on a married father’s homosexual tryst.
We are often told to not identify the protagonist with the writer. Still… I wonder…. 😃
Short stories are easy to digest in this age of short attention span in part, largely influenced by social media snap feeds. So I recommend this to those who want to read but have yet to start. And yes, please support Singlit, because I hope you’ll be reading my book soon.