I have received many amazingly high-quality submissions over the last few months, and have struggled to squeeze them all in, so this edition of The Blue Nib is surely fatter than ever before. This issue is bursting with a wide range of excellent new fiction, encompassing themes as diverse as mortality, the uncanny, coming of age and the quest for new life.
Diana Powell’s work The Cabinet of Immortal Wonders is beautifully dark, visceral, fantastical and sumptuously described. This is a disturbing and richly imagined story, and a nightmarish feast for the senses. You’ll Die as Fish by Susan Anwin is open to interpretation, as a relatable workaday scenario leads to unexpected feelings of pervading alienation, on an aquatic theme. Meanwhile, Ruth Brandt’s A Village Street in Winter continues the watery motif, with a chilly tale set in the unthinking cruelty and unfocused apathy of childhood.
White Ink by John Higgins is a gritty, contemporary coming of age tale with grief at its heart, while The Depth of Ambition by Anna Hayes also has a liminal feel, with a core of quiet optimism. Venomous by Abigail Walker is a short piece with an immersive, hallucinatory quality as it describes a night out, and is cleverly interspersed with musical references.
Other stories hint at a differences and accommodation between sometimes thoughtless younger characters, and emotionally fragile but essentially strong older characters. With Goodbye, Mr. Fox Anne Walsh Donnelly brings us an assured tale of grief, misunderstandings and hidden hurt. Meanwhile, Paul Brownsey’s People Don’t Think About Things Like That also tells a well-characterized, intelligent and engaging story encompassing independence, old age, loneliness - and a clumsy attempt to do the right thing.
Teresa Sweeney’s well-observed tale Parallel Lines focuses on struggles with conception, and associated ambivalence and relationship strain. She has an ear for dialogue, and a pithy turn of phrase, and is a writer I look forward to seeing more from. On a related theme, Edward Lee has written Blight, which focuses on early pregnancy loss, and is full of quiet desperation, longing and regret, as well as a strong appreciation of the essential at the core of a relationship.
Finally, Late Capitalism by Rob Schofield is something completely different, and a complete treat. This story I found wry, dryly humorous and full of unrepentant glee - as well as an incisive message on the state of modern society.
The Blue Nib seeks to champion new talent, and no submission goes unread, so do keep them coming. And if you have published work that you’d like us to consider for review, then let us know.