Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Reading South Philly stories and Martin Amis

Martin Amis book of essaysWe’re in the middle of wading through the submissions for South Philly Fiction, a forthcoming collection of short stories highlighting South Philadelphia as a literary backdrop. There’s some real gems in the bunch, should be a good and surprisingly varied collection. We’ll start letting selected (and, unfortunately, rejected) authors know “soon.”

This editor has been alternating South Philly Fiction submissions with essays and articles by British novelist Martin Amis (favorite books include Time's Arrow and Dead Babies). Came across a quote, the conclusion of “Short Stories, From Scratch,” a 1983 article from the Observer newspaper about his experiences judging the Whitbread Price for short stories (reprinted in Visiting Mrs Nabokov and Other Excursions). It nicely captures the joy of reading submissions, even ones that won’t make it into the finished book:

For me the biggest surprise was how rarely I was bored by these fragments, how little I disliked the work, and how fixedly I followed every story to the end . . . often, certainly, it was human interest, not literary relish, that compelled. I was reminded how astonishingly intimate the business of fiction is, more intimate than anything that issues from the psychiatrist’s couch or even the lovers’ bed. You see the souled, pinned and wiggling on the wall. And you see a very personal view of South Philly, in all its gritty glory.

Well, maybe Amis didn’t write the last sentence, but it’s true. Check back here or visit phillyfiction.com for updates on the forthcoming book.

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