Friday, 27 November 2020

Sudden Prose Reprints: "What Death Said" by Jane Monson

What Death Said

Here the wind is too subtle, too unseen. Even the dew on the grass is safe, the ant's straight line over the slate and the slack wire line from tree to wall--even this is static, stock-still in the air. She waits for a change, a sneeze or a sigh, some shift in the view. She does not trust or know nature like this--inanimacy, she finds, breeds a tension like death. For this, she is always unprepared, always taken aback--to the night on a long lost road, waiting out the surprise that comes when death pricks open her eyes and says: you have known me before I have known you.


Jane Monson
Speaking without Tongues (Cinnamon, 2010)

Friday, 20 November 2020

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Early Retirement" by Ian Seed


Early Retirement

After many years abroad, I moved to a small village in Cornwall. The locals immediately took to me because I seemed foreign and exotic. The plump, middle-aged woman at the Post Office asked me if I would take on the leading male role in a production that was going to be put on at the village hall. She would play the leading lady. I was too ashamed to admit that I wouldn’t be able to remember the lines. Instead I told her my schedule was already packed, mumbling a lie about a book to write. She blushed as if I’d slapped her. Perhaps another year, I suggested, though I knew my memory would be even worse by then. She shook her head. My standing in the community would never be the same again. 



Ian Seed

New York Hotel (Shearsman, 2018) 

Friday, 13 November 2020

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Volunteer" by Ian Seed


We were all in a large tent. Sitting at untidily laid-out trestle tables, we had to sort out hundreds of letters, stick labels with addresses on envelopes, put the letters inside and seal them with a lick. I was surprised at how quickly my mouth and tongue got sore. I had come in good faith, but was now wondering how I could escape.

A tall American lady dressed in a red uniform seemed to be standing guard at the flap door. She wanted to know why I was leaving so soon. Before I could reply, she pointed to the ring on my finger. ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘the best ones always get taken, don’t they?’ She gave me a bundle of large letters and envelopes to take home with me, to make sure I was kept busy and useful.



Ian Seed

New York Hotel (Shearsman, 2018) 


Friday, 6 November 2020

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Evolution" by Ian Seed




There were some large black ducks, not unlike dodos, by the German lake. I began pushing one gently by the beak until it pushed back and then slowly and clumsily chased me round and round. From nearby metal benches, some Germans looked on bemused.  

We hadn’t been here since my daughter was a toddler. At that time, she was frightened by the birds, and I had played the same game to amuse her. Now she was a teenager exploring the old town on her own, while my wife slept off her hangover. I had nothing better to do.

A German man, roughly the same age and height as me, but much broader in the shoulder, got up and started playing my game with one of the ducks. But he did so in an aggressive and exaggerated manner, as if to parody me. The others smiled and their eyes lit up, perhaps anticipating my inevitable humiliation.



Ian Seed

New York Hotel (Shearsman, 2018)