Friday, November 16, 2012

Reviewed in the TLS, oh my!

So, after some scouring of newsagents in North Devon - where we are currently located for a bit of peace and quiet - we finally tracked down a copy of the new issue of the Times Literary Supplement with the review of My Mother Was An Upright Piano. I was pretty nervous, I made J read it while I watched his facial expressions. I had so many worst case scenarios running through my head. It's the TLS, for goodness sake!

Turns out the worst case didn't happen. Firstly, I am delighted that the reviewer at the TLS to whom I sent the book (after he'd briefly mentioned me positively in a review of Lee Rourke's A Brief History of Fables, which features a few of my flash stories) didn't just toss it aside, but took the time to seriously engage with my writing, even putting it into historical context. He must have so many books he might review, that to be singled out is an immense honour. It's worth saying again, that for a short story writer with no literary agent, published by a small press, to be noticed is immensely heartening. And a note to all your unagented writers published by small presses - I took the initiative here, so don't be shy, just do it, give reviewers a chance to consider your work! (Yes, it turned out to be fairly scary, but worth it!)

OK, so here's the review. Your thoughts? Can you read it?If you right-click on View Image, then you can zoom in, I hope.


18 comments:

dan powell said...

That's brilliant Tania. Good on you for taking the initiative. An impressive achievement to land a review in the TLS and one that is well deserved.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

Oh FAB!!!

Sue Guiney said...

Oh my oh my oh my!!! This is a wonderful review. Careful, clear-sighted. Even with his (minor) criticisms he clearly "got" you and likes what you've done. I love when he refers to you as Hershman (as of course he would). In the TLS it sounds so...so....professional! I'm thrilled for you and for how brave you were!

Tania Hershman said...

Dan, thank you so much, I really thought nothing would ever come of it, otherwise I probably wouldn't have dared!

V, thank you!!

Sue, thanks so much, it helps enormously to see it through all your sets of eyes because I think I'm still in shock and unable to read it clearly!

Tim Love said...

It's brill that you've got that big a write-up in the TLS. Others might consider retiring having reached such a high.

The reviewer seem to be having the sort of problem I had when I read Tony Williams' "All the Bananas I've Never Eaten" ( my write-up's at http://litrefsreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/all-bananas-ive-never-eaten-by-tony.html ). I ended up querying the idea of having a collection of 72 non-intense pieces, rather than the pieces themselves. If one is used to reading short stories of 2000 words or so, it's tempting to expect a short piece to be somehow more concentrated or difficult. Should one treat such a book like a comedy sketch-show, not expecting to like all the bits? But once the reader takes each piece on its merit, momentum flags. Knowing the hit'n'miss nature of such a book, I think the author might as well take risks rather than play safe.

Neil said...

That's great. And great for all the rest of us who write odd little tales.

And well done for avoiding the "Calvinoesque metamorphosis". I keep bumping my head on it.

WOMEN RULE WRITER said...

Fab, Tania - he certainly read the book carefully and was enchanted by so much of it. N x x

Sarah Hilary said...

Hurray! The TLS retains its venerable gavitas. Congratulations - what a great way to enter the final weeks of a wonderful year.

Oscar Windsor-Smith said...

So very pleased for you, Tania. That must be the icing on a creative cake of a year. Couldn't happen to a nicer person. Now back to the mixing bowl. ;)

Sue Guiney said...

I just have to say, I love what Neil said!! :-)

Tania Hershman said...

Tim, thanks, I am tempted to consider retirement ;) And you have a point regarding collections of very short fictions, they are a fairly novel thing and before MMWAUP I wasn't entirely convinced of the wisdom of it myself. We have structured the collection, but it was anti-theme, they are in sections which deliberately mix up styles, voices, etc... Maybe not so obvious, or didn't work for him.

Neil, thank you! And yes, that damn Calvinoesque metamorphosis, I just keep it under the bed.

Nuala, thank you! Quite a shock but it all turned out ok. x x

Sarah, it is a nice way to almost-end the year! Am glad I am off to teach Arvon next week, get away from everything, just immerse myself in talking and writing short stories.

Thank you, Oscar, that's really nice of you. If I had cake, I'd send you a piece!


Helena Halme said...

TLS!!!!! WOW! And what a wonderful review, Tania! And well done for sending it in, the brave inherit the world!?

Lots of love,

Helena xx

PS. I'll try to get to your event on 10th December in Soho. xx

Caroline M Davies said...

He must have been so pleased to have it to read - lucky man - so of course he was enthusiastic. I've loved reading it too but am trying to ration myself so that I don't get to the end too quickly.

Well done for sending it.

Lauri said...

Wow!Wow!Wow!!!
I am now putting this on MY CV- "Knows personally a writer reviewed in the TLS"

First- HUGE congrats!
Yes, I would have been petrified. I think the review is fab, though I must say I thought his jab about your acknowledgement page was a bit much.

Still- wonderful wonderful!!Congrats!

Christopher Allen said...

Fantastic review, Tania! I'm so happy for you! Massive high-five!

Dan Purdue said...

I've only just seen this - many congratulations, Tania! A very encouraging review; you must be thrilled.

Tania Hershman said...

Helena -thanks! And looking forward to seeing you on the 10th!

Caroline, thanks, that's very kind of you! Hope you're enjoying the book.

Lauri, thank you!!! I have to say I'm still not entirely sure how positive the review is, but am thrilled it exists. Yes, the bit about the Acknowledgements was a little, well, naughty...

Chris, thank you!!

Dan, thanks so much, I think I'm having trouble taking it all in, it was quite a shock. A nice shock!

chillcat said...

So true about taking initiatives - amazing things can happen. Good on you for picking up and running with the ball. It DOES take a lot of nerve and it doesn't always pay off, but this time it did. Great work - you deserve this!