Wednesday 19 October 2022

Jane Fraser, "Connective Tissue"


Jane Fraser lives, works and writes fiction in a house facing the sea in the village of Llangennith, in the Gower peninsula, south Wales. In 2017 she was a finalist for the Manchester Fiction Prize and in 2018 was a prize-winner for the Fish Memoir Prize and selected as a Hay Festival Writer at Work. Her first collection of short fiction, The South Westerlies, was published by Salt in 2019. In 2022, she was commissioned by BBC Radio 4 for the first time to write a short story which was broadcast as part of its Short Works series. In 2022, she was also awarded The Paul Torday Memorial Prize for her debut novel, Advent, published by Welsh women’s press Honno in 2021. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from Swansea University, is wife to Philip and co-director of NB:Design, a business they share, and importantly, grandmother to Megan, Florence and Alice. She is a firm believer that there’s a right time in life to do things, rather than a right age. Her second collection of short stories, Connective Tissue, is published by Salt in October 2022.

About Connective Tissue

This collection of short fiction aims to define the sometimes indefinable and to give voice to those struggling to make sense of what life throws at them. There are those who travel in a continuous loop on London’s underground and those who dance at night with the departed. A woman confronts herself in a bedroom mirror after decades of denial and a widow finds comfort in an osteopath’s consulting room. And then there is a strange creature who falls to earth; dreams and portents; crows and folklore, and much more.

The stories are tragic and comi-tragic, but all reveal the strength and complexity of the human spirit. They bring poignant insights on grief, loss and longing and the depths and strangeness of the human psyche and how we manage to survive and just about cope.

You can read more about Connective Tissue on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read an extract from the title story. 

From Connective Tissue, by Jane Fraser

Maggie Morgan has her head in the hole that’s been manufactured to accommodate it. She keeps her eyes open and stares down through the dark space at the floor. She’s lying flat on her stomach on the black couch in the treatment room.

“How have we been since last time, Maggie?” Jenny asks. “Any pain? Headaches? Tenderness?”

“About the same. No worse. No better,” she says.

Her own voice sounds strange to her; distant somehow, as though in a great void. She wonders why it is always necessary to refer to her in the first person plural these days. She can’t recall exactly when it first started, though knows it was some medical context or other. “Still mobile are we, Mrs. Morgan?” “Wearing our distance glasses for driving are we, Mrs. Morgan?” “Taking our tablets are we, Mrs. Morgan.” “Opening our bowels regularly are we, Mrs. Morgan?”

She’d like to remind Jenny that she hasn’t been a ‘we’ for almost twenty years, that she is very much an ‘1.’ Singular. First person. Alone and almost invisible. But she can’t somehow bring it up. And she’s a lovely girl anyway. Doesn’t want to upset her.

“Just going to work down your spine first, Maggie. The usual. Don’t mind if I unclasp your bra?”

“Long as your hands aren’t cold,” she says.

“Warmed them up especially for you. Feel.” 

She knows Jenny’s hands by now: fleshy finger tips, firm, young, know what they’re doing. In the snug of the hole, she detaches herself from Jenny the girl and gives herself up to the hands.

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