Textual Peeling

It’s past midnight and I’m printing off texts for this morning’s Tricycle Readers group – the last of the term. Each week I’ve expected the task of finding a story of the right length and quality for a 90 minute session to get easier, but it continues to be a challenge: a short story can be 500 or 5000 or 15000 words. Our optimum is around 2500 words. We’ve discovered whole worlds on four sides of A4!

This week we have one short story and an essay. The latter is a salutary seasonal tale from Amy Tan, which exploits the drama of the family table on Christmas Eve. High Holy Days embody the diversity of human sentiment, manners, anxiety, expectation and fear.  By placing all the elements that drive good writing in the same space, the writer can clear a lot of ground with a few incisive sentences.

I love short stories and over the last three months have read nothing but. The breadth of subject matter has been extraordinary and its analysis has tested the powers of the group. We puzzled over the tale of a Kabuki actor who died from blowfish poisoning, and found layers of meaning in an apparently innocuous poem about an August day in Pakistan. Each week brings surprises.

The seasonal break is a chance to catch up with the unread novels and slew of unread Sunday newspaper supplements that have built up around the house. The Tricycle Readers blog has no break however – there is too much to share about writing and language and the protocols around them. If you’re interested in joining the group which recommences on January 5 please email.



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