Two schoolgirls in Bolton take acid just before their English class. A film journalist shares tea and a Kitkat with Marcel Proust, more or less, during a long train journey. An afterparty turns into a crime scene. Colleagues, maybe in love, have lunch and don’t quite talk about their relationship. A woman flees to New Orleans and finds unexpected treasures there.
In her electric debut, Anna Wood skips through the decades of a woman’s life, meeting friends, lovers, shapeshifters and doppelgangers along the way. Delights and regrets pile up, time becomes non-linear, characters stumble and shimmy through moments of rupture, horror and joy.
Written with warmth, wit and swagger, these stories glide from acutely observed comic dialogue to giddy surrealism and quiet heartbreak, and always there is music – pop songs as tiny portals into another world. Yes Yes More More is packed with friendship, memory, pleasure and love.
Huge thanks to the author, publisher and the lovely Jordan Taylor-Jones for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Having recently read one of Anna Wood’s stories in the excellent anthology Outsiders, I was very keen to read more of her work. What struck me about that story was how well Wood captures the utter joy of being young and with a bunch of friends with a whole night of fun and hedonism stretching out ahead of you, glittering with possibilities. I was delighted to find that same theme repeated in this stunning collection. I honestly don’t think I’ve read anyone who writes ‘nights out’ as well as Wood, who manages to encapsulate that youthful feeling of immortality and openness and excess, without loading on judgement or warnings. It made me so nostalgic for mad nights, for that feeling of staying up till dawn and still not wanting the party to end, of connections suddenly and intimately forged in the early hours. It wasn’t all good, and I actually wouldn’t go back to my late teens/early twenties if you paid me, but my God, there were some fun times, and I wouldn’t change it.
Amongst the beautiful excess, there are other, differently-hued moments. We dip in and out of the life of Annie, sometimes entering her first person point of view, sometimes held at more of a distance by the third person. Often she seems to be a at a crossroads, deciding on whether to stay on the conventional path of a stylish London career, or whether to jack it all in and head off into the sunset. We find her in France, sipping wine outside a café; in New Orleans, having a delicious fling with a beautiful young man; in Iceland, attending a friend’s wedding. This collection comes at you in flashes, bright and brilliant, sometimes darkly hilarious, sometimes so beautiful and poignant it brings a lump to the throat. The writing is dazzling – so sharp and fresh and vivid – every sentence zings with truth.
This is one of the most original and piercing short story collections I have read for a long time, and I am excited to read whatever comes next from this phenomenally talented writer. I highly recommend you get your hands on Yes Yes More More immediately.