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The Rising Cost of Staying Alive


Marti Lauretde (indie published: 2021)

This is a collection of short stories (and some poetry) by a fairly new voice. It is presented in an intriguing cover, with artwork that may be neurones connecting together in the brain, or perhaps something else entirely. The same applies to the contents within: an intriguing collection of narratives where little is quite what it seems. I am not a great reader of short stories, but I enjoyed these.

The author is from America (mainly South Carolina) but has lived in Britain for many years and has experience of a wide and rich hinterland which she uses to effect in her writing. Some of the stories reference her childhood and youth in the southern United States, while others refer to later periods of her life. Her political sympathies can perhaps be inferred from several of the items in the collection; she wears her heart on her sleeve but is not afraid to be irreverent and treat things with a strong sense of humour and a pinch of salt. A number of the tales are also notable in that the writer describes the issues of encroaching age with clarity and understanding; while creating characters that are believable, if fleeting, and you are left wanting to know more.

I wanted to have a continuation of the narratives of Frances and Daisy for example (from the titular story of the collection); while hoping that my book group does not resemble the one described in ‘Monroe’. I found several stories at the end describing the experience of lockdown to be particularly apposite and they rang true, which is noteworthy considering the fiction of the pandemic is largely still being written.


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