Orbits, ornithology, and orienteering: Summer Readaround – 2 June 2021

The first AWC Summer Readaround evening was held on Wednesday 2 June 2021 courtesy of Carolyn, who had us adopting the personas of famous writers for the Zoom session. There was no lack of ambition in our chosen names-on-cocktail-sticks – from Shakespeare to Pinter, Burns to Duffy, we reached for the literary stars. Nor did we limit ourselves with regards to genre; our stories took us from near-Earth orbit to Glasgow tenements, via princesses and princes and one particularly bloodthirsty crow.

First up was my short story A Spaceman Came Travelling. We orbited earth alongside a somewhat jaded deity before plunging downwards in a fiery rain of twisted metal and thwarted ambition. Not, I hasten to add, an allegory for the quality of writing ahead of us.

Nigel’s Setting over Stature took us on an altogether more uplifting, if earthbound, journey. A wander up Glen Lyon and the Lubreoch Dam awaited us as we observed ‘scratches masquerading as fledgling ravines’ and ‘black-bottomed clouds’. Nigel’s piece had a wonderful contemplative air about it and, as with all good travel writing, this was as much about the journey as the destination.

Next was Thomas’ flash fiction A Murder of Crows. We were lulled into the expectation of a light-hearted, ornithological tale with the early appearance of a bluetit at a window. Nevertheless, this was more Daphne du Maurier than Bill Oddie, and before long beaks were tapping at windows in an ominous fashion. This was a story with a dark ending that left us watching the skies.

Marion took us to the tenements of Glasgow with her short story Confessions of a Six-Year-Old. We began by discovering that wee Archie was dead – a shocking start to a narrative but one that hooked the reader immediately. What followed was a fantastic evocation of Govan tenement life. The details were exquisite, and the sense of a community making ends meet and of people living in one another’s’ pockets made for a compelling story.

We travelled next from the Southside of Glasgow to a land of magic and myth with Kirsty’s The Warrior Maiden Faces a Choice. This was written in the second person – an unusual choice but an excellent one in this case. It put us right in the middle of the action and in the shoes of the protagonist. There was some lovely, lyrical writing in this piece, ‘As his blade grew dull, so did his eyes’ being just one example.

To finish we had Damaris’ piece Vocation. We were treated to some wonderful characters, from the predatorial Zoran to the enigmatic Clara. The story was progressed through dialogue very effectively, and the sense of mystery surrounding Clara was an effective hook throughout. Vocation came to a beautifully melancholic end and brought the curtain down on the night.

Thanks to Carolyn for hosting a very successful first Readaround of the summer!

Matt Richardson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *