A man carries his girlfriend in the left-hand breast pocket of his shirt. During World War II, a young soldier searches the houses and barns of the families with whom he grew up. An astronaut wonders whether she can adapt to life back on earth… In her second collection of short fiction, Laura Besley explores a kaleidoscope of emotions through 100 stories of exactly 100 words each.
I absolutely loved Laura Besley’s first collection, The Almost Mothers, so I was really excited to read her second book. Huge thanks to Arachne Press for having me on the blog tour and for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. If you follow Laura on social media (which you really should!) you’ll know that even within the space limit of a tweet-length micro story, she can pack in one hell of a punch. It doesn’t come as a surprise, therefore, that the constraints of a 100-word format only serve to sharpen her considerable skills.
I won’t go into too much detail on the individual stories as I’m much more long-winded than Laura and would probably use more words than she does to write each one! The text is divided into four ‘seasons’ which is a neat way of grouping these deliciously varied tales. There is a kind of overriding mood to each section, and it is fun to move through the groups of stories and sense the changing tone.
Certain themes and character types are revisited; ‘The Monthly Checker’ has a Part I in Winter and a Part II in Spring, but what struck me the most about this collection is the huge variety of the material. So much of life is packed into these stories, precious moments and sad ones, humour and grief, gorgeous nuggets of hope and stinging barbs of hurt. I am constantly amazed at Laura’s ability to make each word count (pun intended) – though they take seconds to read, each story has a resonance that makes far more than a fleeting impression.
It is this lingering quality that makes 100neHundred so special. So many of the stories lodged themselves in my mind – to pick out just a few of my favourites: ‘Mother Tongue’, ‘Between Worlds’, ‘Modern Romance’, ‘Speed Reading’, ‘Blink’, ‘Too Many Words’, ‘Life Goes On’, ‘Five Digit Pin’. I love the balance of cynicism and faith in human kindness, the harshness of life offset by moments of grace.
If you haven’t dipped your toe into the world of micro-fiction before, this collection is a wonderful place to start. It crosses genres, timelines, moods and tones, and offers something for every reader. If you’re already a convert to the joy of flash, you’ll want to add this one to your library – Laura Besley is an expert practitioner of the form. I can’t wait to read more of her work.
About the Author
Laura Besley writes short fiction in the precious moments when her children are asleep. She has been listed by TSS Publishing as one of the top 50 British and Irish Flash Fiction writers. Her work has been nominated for Best Micro Fiction and her story, To Cut a Long Story Short, will appear in the Best Small Fiction anthology in 2021. 100neHundred is Laura’s second short fiction collection.
100neHundred by Laura Besley is published by Arachne Press on 27th May and is available to purchase here.
***LAUNCH EVENT*** To attend the virtual launch for 100neHundred and David Hartley’s Incorcisms on 27th May, click here and register!