:: Article

Tindal Street 10

By Max Dunbar.

roadsahead

Roads Ahead, ed. Catherine O’Flynn, Tindal Street, 2009  

The independent publisher Tindal Street Press had its tenth birthday recently and to mark it they have released an anthology of new writing. I tend to be sceptical about these projects – generally you get a few good pieces buried under landfill UEA-Lite prose. With Roads Ahead, though, almost all the writing is very good. There are stories with the scope of novels. There are characters you wonder about after having finished the story. There are distinctive voices. The sentences have been worked on until they shine. And, as Catherine O’Flynn points out in her introduction, there is very little autobiography or pseudo-autobiography here. Although the authors are of similar ages and of similar backgrounds, their characters and locations vary wildly. These writers have charged out into the world and written what they saw in it. 

A few are worth mentioning by name. Kavita Bhanot, in ‘A Float for Shez’, has managed to write one of the few stories about childhood that is not incredibly dull. With skill and insight, she filters flashes and glimpses of the adult world through adolescent politics and priorities. In ‘Table Rock Lake’, David Savill’s narrator has to come to terms with his lover’s war crimes in Iraq; it’s really moving, with a last line that sends a physical shiver down the spine. ‘Ball Pool’ highlights Chris Killen‘s talent in capturing the texture of life and exploring what happens when it falls apart. And Aniete Isong’s ‘Devotion’ asks: how far would you go to protect those you love?

To paraphrase John D MacDonald: you have wasted your time reading this review. You could have been reading the stories.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Max Dunbar
was born in London in 1981. He recently finished a full-length novel and his short fiction has appeared in various print and web journals including Open Wide, Straight from the Fridge and Lamport Court. He also writes articles on politics and religion for Butterflies and Wheels. He is Manchester’s regional editor of Succour magazine, a journal of new fiction and poetry. He is reviews editor of 3:AM and blogs here.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009.