Some of you may remember that last year I reviewed an astonishingly impressive short story collection, Lunate vol. 1. The quality of writing and ideas explored made this short work stand out to such a degree that it made it onto my Books of 2022 list. Thus I was happy to receive a copy of the second print edition published by the Lunate Journal. Once again, this is a collection I can unreservedly recommend.
Lunate vol. 2 is made up of seven short stories and essays from an impressive list of contributors. Although readers will undoubtedly have their favourites, all entries are worth reading.
The opening story, This content has been removed by Kate Vine, tells of a marriage that encountered problems from the outset. Narrated by a young woman, it opens by explaining why her new husband moved to live in a different country after the wedding. The strength of the story for me is in the structure – numbered, bite-sized updates on their relationship before and after the nuptials. The taut and enticing writing is decidedly moreish, the digressions adding a touch of ambiguity and humour.
The Twist in the Maid by Elizabeth Brennan also uses an inspired structure to draw in the reader. Between commentary on a painting by Vermeer (Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid) the story of a young marketing designer is told. Charlotte is contracted to work mornings, taking on freelance work afterwards. Her passion, though, is her painting which she does in the evening. What is being explored is the balance of power within a work environment and how this can spill over into what should be personal life.
Mother’s House by Jayson Carcione is an end of life story. The protagonist has left his flat in the city to care for his mother, comatose since a fall. There are snippets on their background. The son, struggling with how best to fulfil this new role, takes it on himself to care for the crumbling house alongside its owner. I was less convinced by the more magical aspects but the denouement was uplifting.
The Naming Convention by Adam Farrer offers an entertaining riff on how children may be affected by the moniker their parents assign them at birth. This came across as particularly apt given how certain celebrities choose to name their offspring. Given this is written as an essay, I wondered if the child encountered at the GP surgery was anyone real…
Vacation by JL Bogenschneider tells of an ill-fated visit to London by an American father and son. An accident renders carefully made plans infeasible but good times are still had, mostly through moments some may not notice. Memories of holidays are not necessarily linked to expensive tourist attractions.
Burning Down Our House by Stu Hennigan is a coruscating essay on attitudes to climate change. Although including facts drawn from research and studies, the structure avoids undue dogmatism. Rather it asks why the wealthy believe the vast amounts of money they hoard from raping the earth’s resources will protect them when all human life is rendered unsustainable. The focus, though, is on the younger generations – those such as the author as a child, who wanted to save the planet through recycling, and others to come who will reap the effects of what has been sown.
“for people my age, our children could be the parents of the Last Generation”
I actually drew hope from the ending, although am aware some may not feel this way.
The final story, The Technique of Snow by Jess Moody, is an inspired follow up to Hennigan’s essay as well as being a finely told tale on its own impressive merits. A village kept picture perfect for residents and wealthy tourists comes at a cost that few will admit to. Short term thinking and blinkered vision is so familiar when personal comforts are still available (the tale also made me question the environmental cost of modern ski resorts).
A collection, then, that is very much in tune with our times but may be enjoyed by readers for the varied structures and themes as well as the quality of the writing. Thought provoking as it is what impresses most are the literary explorations and innovation. Lunate has cemented its place as a journal to follow.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Lunate Journal.