The students of Nottingham College are a prolific lot and each course produces an anthology. Bright Sparks is the tenth, which is no mean feat given the extremely short length of the course and the amount of work that’s needed to meet deadlines. As always there is a mix of prose and poetry.
Shampagne Lifestyle, Lemonade Budget by Emma Cooper – an enjoyable tale of Katie, who has moved back home with her parents following a relationship breakup and the loss of her career. In the doldrums with a ‘make do’ job and her idiot of an ex contacting her she has a gift for general knowledge and might just have found a way out of her situation. I loved the description of Jonathan-but-call-me-John – haha!
Stationary at Work by Alex Day is the story of Richard Benson, his tedious work life and his addiction to stealing the office stationery. He overhears a conversation he shouldn’t, gets into a position he’d rather have avoided and just at the moment of reprieve is let down in the most mortifying way. I really enjoyed Benson’s attitude to work in this one and the confusion over the employees by Simon and Denise.
Conjugal Visit by Susan France is the well thought out story of a prisoner, with an escape plan. I won’t say much here because I don’t want to give anything away but I really liked the dénouement and actually would have liked it to have been fleshed out a little more so the reader really felt it.
No More Tears to Cry by K. C. Brier is a terribly bleak tale of a thirteen-year-old girl who has already been abused and has turned to a life on the street and of prostitution and drugs to escape her home. Unsurprisingly this is a harsh story and portrays just the start of what life is like for far too many people I expect.
Keiry by Paul Sinkinson and Keiry, the alien, meets Chris Brown, a boy from Montauk. But while they are eating pizza they are unaware of the military investigations into the UFO sighting and of the cover up that will follow. I don’t read sci fi stories usually but feel that this one could become a much longer work in time.
Of the Sea by Aidan Parr is set in Ireland and is the story of a boy remembering family visits there, of family jokes and tales that had gone into family folklore in the way these things do. I could hear the accent in the writing and feel the embarrassment of the boy with the things that were said about him and his first taste of Guinness went just as I would have imagined.
There is then a lot of poetry to enjoy from Annaka Whiteman, Biancamaria Maniscalco, Janet Anne Winn, Clark Brundle and Aidan Parr.