The art of creating a short story anthology is not so different to arranging the seating plan for an extravagant dinner party. A variety of tales by a variety of writers, with often different world views, need to sit together in harmony – similar enough in tone not to prevent discord, yet dissimilar enough to stimulate interest. In the case of Unthology No.3 the editors have proven to be the perfect hosts.
You know to expect the unexpected with Unthank Books, and the third edition of the annual unthology doesn’t fail to deliver, with a wonderfully diverse array of stories.
From narratives presented in almost entirely in social media format, through to whispers of folklore, pockets of sci-fi and insights into suburbia at its most surreal, there’s plenty here to stretch your mind a little out of shape in the most delightful ways.Stories that have stayed with me long after reading include The Man Who Hugged Women by Mischa Hiller – a cockle-warming gem that ends at exactly the right moment. The Triptych Papers by Ian Chung is just as pleasing, in an utterly different way.
Actually, ‘utterly different’ is the perfect definition for the majority of the tales showcased here, where one moment you can find yourself being absorbed into the sublime minutiae of a meat pie factory employee’s existence in Even Meat Fill by Gordon Collins, and at the next examining the troubled interior of a marriage and the vastness of a night sky in Trans-Neptune by Ashley Stokes.
In the best storytelling, what’s left unsaid is as important as what’s said, and the writers of these tales clearly understand that well, leaving the reader to figure out the details of what’s going on, and in this way enriching the reading process and preventing it being in the slightest bit passive.
Reading Unthology 3 is an active, absorbing experience that will fill you to the brim with vivid images, concepts and narratives, leaving you feeling satisfyingly full – like all the best dinner parties.