The inspiration behind the short stories in this collection is the artwork of Nicolas Ruston. Fifteen different paintings were created together, all in the same medium and all with one thing in common - they all featured the words "The End". Unthank then charged fifteen authors with coming up with the stories behind those paintings.
An image of the painting appears before the start of each story and its sub title - the story's title - is added on replacing the number the artist originally gave the piece. The book was launched at an exhibition of the paintings in Norwich earlier this month with readings from some of the authors and even wine - The End Wine - in bottles featuring the images of the paintings and quotations from the stories. Sadly it was a launch I could not attend despite being one I would have loved to.
The first story in the collection reflects on what endings are. With each painting resembling the final scene in an old black and white movie it's easy to imagine what an ending might be, but why be constrained by expectations? - step outside of it and explore other endings - and being from the stable of Unthology that's exactly what these tales do.
Each of these works is a big step away from the other fourteen in both style and content and while melancholy is frequently a major factor it is presented in so many different ways. Being an Untholoholic I expected great things of this book and was not disappointed.
I often reflect on my favourite short story in any anthology - in this case I had fifteen so we won't go into too much detail.
- Loose Ends reflects on the many kinds of ending that there can be but then the other writers add to that list.
- The Slyest of Foxes is the story of an 'incomer' to a small community with insights to share.
- If you have a heart of stone you won't be moved by Coup De Grace - it was a little too close to real for me.
- Perturbation was a style that surprised me in a good way with a story I suspected the end to but found I wasn't quite right.
- Ariel... we've all been there but perhaps don't realise it.
- Chaconne in G Minor is a story of loss that captures that emotion brilliantly.
- What Happens Next is an ironic tale of a change in life that leads to its own ending.
- Burning The Ants is a story that goes to a dark place I'd rather not go - I still loved it though.
- Harbour Lights will leave you reflecting on the depth of true love.
- Decompression Chamber... well it certainly covers endings but it's hard to say much more - another brilliant piece though.
- The Crow... a very unusual tale, a story of an end. Or is it?
- Souls... a tale of justice that will horrify and satisfy - I think.
- The Sense Of An Ending - what is going on here? What would you like to be going on here? What could be going on here?
- All The TVs In Town - a story to creep you out quite a lot and leave you checking what's on TV ...anything will do.
- Nowhere Nothing Fuck-Up... a story that will set you thinking big time.
There isn't one story that doesn't 'belong' and every one will bring something to your reading. Another brilliant idea and collection from Unthank that once again begs the question "What next?". I have seen speculation about the idea of "The End II" but it's difficult to see how it could be as great as this - but this publisher has surprised me too often in the past.
Publisher - Unthank Books
Genre - Adult short story anthology
Contributors - AJ Ashworth, Gordon Collins, Ailsa Cox, Michael Crossan, Sarah Dobbs, Tania Hershman, Zoe Lambert, Dan Powell, Aiden O’Reilly, UV Ray, Angela Readman, David Rose, Ashley Stokes, Tim Sykes, Jonathan Taylor