Apparently there’s a thing called binge viewing. This is where you sit and watch your favourite tv show, all 101 episodes of a zombie drama or a political satire or edgy comedy, one straight after the other. None of the old-fashioned waiting until next week’s instalment, mulling over the last, projecting what will happen next.

I am not criticising. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve found myself stuck on the couch too. I have been lucky enough to have a pile of literary journals and anthologies land in my letterbox recently (because my name is on the content lists). They are seductive looking publications and I confess, I got caught up in a bit of binge reading.

Antithesis, Offset, Thirteen Stories, fourW, one straight after the other, and sometimes at the same time (a book in every room…). I dipped into short stories and poetry and memoir, thinking, I should close the book now, but just one more, I’ll read just one more entry before I get up and get on with life.

It was like being at a big, lively party. Conversations going on in every corner, voices rising and falling, some getting loud and rambunctious, then quieter voices finding the floor. The party went into the wee hours. I met up with writers I’ve read before and was introduced to names new to me, who I will look out for in the future.

To continue the metaphor, yes, the occasional boring old fart holds forth, but for the most part the writers included in publications like this, whether witty or earnest or somewhere in between, are engaged and questioning the important issues, like what it means to be alive today. Or speculating about tomorrow. Or glancing back a yesterday. Or…

It is no surprise that I now feel like I have a hangover.

I know it’s not the best way of reading collections, so I apologise to all the writers involved. Each piece should be savoured like a fine wine, not guzzled down greedily. But binging is very addictive. And it is wonderful how different voices keep popping back into my head as the days go on.

We are lucky to have such a vibrant small press scene in this country, and should give thanks to the many people involved in the production of such journals. They are inspiring collections and they are also beautiful artefacts which are a joy to behold, and to hold. Especially the ones that include artwork (more stories there: pictures and a thousand words come to mind).

And this is not the whole story either. The on-line world is also a non-stop party, and I have to confess to dipping into some on-line journals lately too. TEXT, Headland, The Regal Fox, Verity Lane. More thoughtful and confronting conversations! It’s no wonder I’m such a fan of the short story genre.

Now, after so many short works, I’m feeling trepidation about embarking on a novel. Deep breath… Plunge…

 

 

 

Painting of Woman Reading in a Forest by Gyula Benczur (1844-1920). They don’t make hats like they used to.

 

 

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