By Jonathan Taylor
A new, thematised anthology of contemporary short stories, High Spirits: A Round of Drinking Stories, which I've co-edited with Karen Stevens, has now been published by Valley Press - just in time, no doubt, for peak drinking season (i.e. Christmas). Below, you can read a blurb about it. It's been a hugely enjoyable project to be involved with, and the anthology includes many wonderful stories, as varied as the drinks behind a bar.
From folk songs to classical art songs, from Purcell to Schubert to Verdi to Mahler to Orff, there is a long and well-known tradition of “Drinking Songs.” The same goes for “Drinking Poems.” This anthology taps into another, less-well-known, yet equally powerful, tradition: that of the “Drinking Story.”
Drinking stories are told by drunks, or about drunks; they are told in pubs, or set in pubs. They are stories where people drink, and stories which somehow induce a sense of drunkenness in readers and listeners. Drunkenness is itself often a story, with a beginning (first drink), a middle (intoxication), and an end (falling over, injury, emotional epiphany, sex, passing out, hangover, or death). Anton Chekhov may or may not have drunkenly compared the experience of reading a short story to downing a shot of vodka, and F. Scott Fitzgerald claimed that a good short story could “be written on a bottle.” Here is a collection of contemporary short stories written on and about bottles – stories about the comedies, tragedies, pleasures, pains and horrors of alcohol – all of which can be downed like (and perhaps with) a glass of vodka.
Edited with an introduction by Karen Stevens and Jonathan Taylor, contributors include some of the best short story writers in the UK today: Judith Allnatt, Jenn Ashworth, Desmond Barry, Laurie Cusack, Louis de Bernières, Jane Feaver, Cathy Galvin, Alison Moore, Kate North, Bethan Roberts, Jane Roberts, Hannah Stevens, Michael Stewart, David Swann, Melanie Whipman and Sue Wilsea.
You can read more details about High Spirits on the publisher's website here.