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31 by Calum Kerr

For sale, 31 stories,
read once.
I’m a man (Gasp! What?) who likes to think I can try anything and be relatively good at it within a few tries, chess notwithstanding. Take Old English –
On ðam ðriddan dæge gesceop se ælmihtiga God sæ and eorðan and ealle eorðlice spryttinga.
Heh? Heh? Okay, that was just copying and pasting from Abbott Aelfric’s De Temporibus Anni but I do know what it means, both literally and idiomatically, and without the need for a glossary or dictionary. Also, I can play several versions of an E minor chord on the ukulele, without ever having been taught to do it properly.

I know, I know, I’m wasted in administration. At ease.

Unsurprisingly, therefore, I have considered, blithely so it must be said, that trying something like NaNoWriMo or, in a more contemporaneous context, whatever it is that the flash fiction version is called (I forget), would be simple to do, after a few tries. However, I did once do the maths on writing 50,000 words in a month, and was rather off-put by numbers like 1667 (words a day). In my day, the time it would take to write 1667 words just doesn’t exist, unless I start making a habit of getting up at 3am.

So, despite what Scott Pack of The Friday Project says about the quality of submissions to publishers after NaNoWriMo, I must grudgingly concede real awe for those who can and do make this Herculean effort to start actually behaving like a writer.

This certainly goes for Dr Callum Kerr.

Here we have 31 stories, written over the course of a single month, collected together and published, bought for actual money, by people like me, who read things and are often unduly critical out of misplaced bitterness. Some are good, really quite good, and some are less so, but for the effort and dedication to his art that Kerr displays, I am unable to be anything less than 75-80% positive about the collection. There do seem to be a few stories where people are planning to kill or have been killing other people, and worryingly they nearly all seem to be in the first person (neighbours of Dr Kerr should call the police if they start smelling unsavoury things coming from under the patio), but given the contemporary saturation of media with horror and gore, both fictional and actual, they’re not overly shocking. And there’s one where some oranges… well, I’ll let you find out. If you have some spare space on your e-reading device and aren’t flush with time, then this is worth checking out. It’s not Hemingway, but that might come with time.

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