Contact me at because I'm always up for a natter about anything. Well, mostly.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Catherine Chanter

I'd like to draw your attention to an excellent short story writer.

Catherine Chanter has published a collection of stories which truly blew my socks off. I went through the terrible ordeal of desperately wanting to read each story but dreading what would happen when I'd finished the book. As it happened, I managed to spread it over a luscious five day period and several of the stories are still haunting me anyway.

The collection is called Rooms of the Mind and the title piece is a lengthy tale that takes the reader around each room of a house as the owner prepares to sell it. As each room is uncovered so is the disturbing life of the owner. Chanter isn't reluctant to play around with form - 'Rooms of the Mind' is set out under the headings of each room and another story, 'A Summary of Findings', has a colloquial tone but contains welfare-style notes at the bottom commenting on the case.

In the shorter tales Chanter immediately plunges you into the world of the character but without revealing anything that may impede enjoyment of the tale. Reading the stories is a delicious exercise - you may have your suspicions about where it's headed but you don't want to ruin your enjoyment of the way it unfolds. One such story is 'The Prologue', a tale that deals with modern themes and preoccupations, as do most in the book.

The collection is off-kilter and strange as the blurb suggests. Out of the eleven stories I only had trouble accessing one. 'You Come Here' is the tale of a woman who gave her daughter up for adoption forty years ago. What makes it difficult to read are the introverted ramblings of the protagonist but, far from being a disposable accessory, these are integral to the unravelling of the woman's story. I personally found it a little difficult to access, even though I enjoyed it in the end.

I bought this book after seeing the cover and very short description in the Inpress Catalogue. For some reason it jumped out at me and I'm exceptionally grateful it did. I'm looking forward to reading these stories again in the not-too-distant future.

Rooms of the Mind is available to buy here.


Sandra Danby said...

Did you know she's just signed a novel deal for 'The Well'? SD

CharmedLassie said...

Ooh, no I didn't. Thanks for letting me know. Looked it up and it gives me something to look forward to in 2015!