Bobbins, short stories (and Janice Galloway)

I love my job. I feel very lucky to work in such an amazingly gorgeous bookshop and to get to go in one day a week and soak up the fiction. Anyway, bobbins and short stories:

A woman came and asked if we had a copy of a specific book. Yes we do, it’s on the next floor up.
“Oh, forget it,” she said sounding disappointed and left.

Someone bought my all time favourite novel “The Trick is to Keep Breathing” by Janice Galloway and I couldn’t resist saying “Ooh, I love this book, it’s my favourite novel EVER.”
“Oh,” the customer replied. “I was looking at “Where You find It” too.”
“You MUST get that as well,” I said. “It’s amazing.”
“Okay. You know, I came in for “This is not about me” really but couldn’t find it.”
“Oh my goodness, also brilliant, it’s in biography, I can grab you a copy if you like?”
BEST CUSTOMER EVER! Oh, and for anyone who has followed my triumphant tale of selling the awesome “Where You FInd It” collection, that brings the total sold to 72. Not bad for a book we didn’t stock eh?
Exciting news is that a collection of Janice Galloway’s stories is forthcoming. How cool is that? I suppose I’ll replace my “Where You Find It”‘s with the new collection, but I’ll be sad in a way. I’m very fond of that book.

Controversially (or, erm, not) I put “Olive Kitteridge” in my short story display case. (If Annie Clarkson reads this please note that Brighton Waterstones has a gorgeous short story display case!)

In other short story news A. L Kennedy’s new collection “What Becomes” is out. I had the pleasure of reviewing it for Waterstone’s Books Quarterly: ( “What Becomes is an impeccable collection from one of the most talented writers around. These are stories that ache and resonate as Kennedy’s stylistic scalpel reveals the pain and truth inside each of her characters. Highly recommended.”)

Today a new online journal has been published. Fancy a read? Head over to The Collagist.

Don’t forget!

I was tagged last week by Kay Sexton
She was asked by Patti Abbott to nominate a title as a Forgotten Book. Or as Patti herself said of the idea “This is the first of what I optimistically hope will become Friday recommendations of books we love but might have forgotten over the years. I have asked several people to help me by also remembering a favorite book. I also asked each of them to tag someone to recommend a book for next Friday. I’m worried great books of the recent past are sliding out of print and out of our consciousness. Not the first-tier classics we all can name, but the books that come next. “

It’s a wonderful book describing a woman’s grief and unravelling life. It feels familiar and yet illuminates with such precision that it astonishes me. It melds wit with empathy and employs trailing sentences and playful typography that all work towards the creation of a very ‘real’ character in Joy (ho ho).


I was deeply moved when I first read it, and still feel surprised that it doesn’t seem to have the recognition it deserves. Galloway is a superb writer who inspires me greatly.

I get to play tag now, so next Friday I will be very interested to read which book Kirsty recommends us.

Janice Galloway is in my top three (and my teeny part in her success!)

Who is the best? Your favourite? Top ten? Blah blah. Of course it’s silly, there’s room for more than ten, one should be ‘allowed’ to pick however many one likes…but it’s a game we play. From best friends to favourite bands we pick and choose, and shuffle, add and subtract from our internal lists.

Who is your favourite writer?

Argh.

I have several that always make my own ‘authors that I love/admire/respect’ internal list, and one of them is Janice Galloway. If I am ever asked to pick one novel from the many I have read to recommend then I will choose ‘The trick is to keep breathing’.

It’s a wonderful book describing a woman’s grief and unravelling life. It feels familiar and yet illuminates with such precision that it astonishes me. It melds wit with empathy and employs trailing sentences and playful typography that all work towards the creation of a very ‘real’ character in Joy (ho ho).

Galloway’s short stories similarly shine truth on our lives, and I marvel constantly at how skilled she is at picking the exact right words.

And in my bookshop I couldn’t recommend her because we didn’t stock her. (Please note past tense! )

I can’t imagine why she wasn’t stocked because to me she is one of the most important writers alive. As a trying/aspirational/daring to go for the dream/ writer myself it is frustrating to think that one may be as gloriously talented as Janice Galloway, and still not get sales and support. What hope is there for the rest of us?

I ordered in a few copies of her short story collection ‘Where you find it’ for my short story display. I wrote a review for it, saying ‘You should buy this book and discover her talent for yourself’, and people have. It’s thrilling, we have reordered a couple of times now, and I’m talking about 12 copies in total, not hundreds or thousands, nothing that’s of any consequence. Still, they are copies that wouldn’t have sold otherwise, so in a teeny tiny way I am doing a little something to promote her work. I have ordered in copies of ‘The trick is to keep breathing’ too.

It makes me smile to know that people have read my recommendation and given a book a go, and it’s a good feeling knowing that a brilliant author is being discovered by people who may not otherwise have come across her.

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