The Complete Short Stories – Update
When I wrote 25 new stories to celebrate a quarter century of writing such tales, I called the resulting double volume Red Gloves Volumes 1 and 2. They were divided into London tales and world tales. Hardly anyone saw the books because they were printed in the small press, but PS Publishing created editions that were very beautiful. In many ways they’re the volumes that most defined my short stories.
Originally I was going to call them ‘The Horrors’, a phrase often associated with wartime and panic, a sudden overwhelming sense of the weight of the world. Put another way, a rush of awareness. My mother always spoke of having ‘an attack of the horrors’. But I realized that the title would prove misleading to anyone expecting the frisson of revulsion you get from exposure to blood and guts – they are tales that step into areas of unease rather than the abbatoir.
‘Red Gloves’ suggests to me that no-one is innocent, and carries all sorts of interesting connotations, from Macbeth to Giallo. The hand stained with blood is a mark of lost innocence. A pair of glamorous, sinister covers were painted by Graham Humphries, with inside jacket illustrations from other artists. The book had two different covers and could be turned upside down for the second volume. The Guardian had this to say;
‘He repeatedly challenges the reader to redraw the boundaries between innocence and malevolence, rationality and paranoia. His strength lies in the way he unveils the darker side of the ordinary.’
So there’s that. The stories will appear in ‘The Complete Short Stories’, a massive tome has taken me years to create, and is fully updated and finished, but needs a publisher with vision and energy who can handle such a daunting undertaking. It covers 35 years of writing tales of unease, and contains stories that shocked me when I became reacquainted with them.
But how do you sell such a book? Jeff Vandemeer’s excellent, comprehensive anthology ‘The Weird’ ran its stories in double columns like newspaper articles, which made reading much easier. I could split the stories into a number of volumes, but surely that would defeat the point. I could redo some as graphic works but that would bump up the cost.
So, at the moment it waits patiently and bides its time – but I promise it will come out, even if I do it myself.
And have I truly finished with short stories for good? Every time I decide I have, I agree to do another. My most recent one is in ‘Invisible Blood’ edited by Maxim Jakubowski.