Test Signal, Edited by Nathan Connolly – Review

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By Sandra Callard

Test Signal is a new book containing a collection of short stories written by a number of writers who all originate from the North of England. Edited by Nathan Connolly, these Northern writers – some published and some totally new – are offering us a taste of their own style of writing. They are essentially stories, mainly written in the first person. which cover a multitude of aspects, length of copy and subjects.

On reading the first few stories I felt the familiar stab of pleasure when a well-thought-out and beautifully written piece of writing hits you, and on reading further l recognised the also familiar feeling of slight letdown. This is bound to occur in and amongst a total number of twenty two pieces of writing on various subjects by various writers, and it surely goes against the grain to say that each of these pieces will be equally superb. But the good thing is that they have been given a chance to shine, and it is up to the readers of these pieces of literature to decide if they want to hear more from them.

test signal book review cover“Rounded picture”

I loved the first two, “Clavicle Wood” and “Making Monsters”, and it was a confident beginning to the book, which kept its standards onwards without too many slips. But slip it occasionally did, such as where one or two pieces had such abrupt endings that l thought l had turned a few pages together. Nevertheless it makes you think about the whys and wherefores of it, and ponder on the reasons for these unexpected turns.

To have so many pieces of new writing before a reviewer is quite a daunting thing. Reading a normal length book gives the reader time to assimilate the author’s style, their gravity or their humour, until a full and rounded picture of the writer and their creation emerges. Short pieces are so much harder to grasp, both for the writer and the reader, but when it succeeds, as many of these pieces do, it is a triumph like no other.

Test Signal is a brave and necessary leap into the future for these new writers and l am pleased that l have been privileged to read them. I wait, with anticipation, for their next moves.

‘Test Signal’ is co-published by Bloomsbury & Dead Ink Books, £16.99 hardback


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