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Pocket Money by Vivienne Lingard


Pocket Money and other stories really is a wonderful new collection of short stories by Auckland writer, Vivienne Lingard. Broad in scope and highlighting the craft of the short story writer, Pocket Money and other stories is filled with intriguing characters, exotic locations and memorable incidents that demonstrate a strength and ability to spin a darn good yarn by Lingard.


As the collection develops, the worlds that Lingard creates begin to take on their own narratives, their own voices. She is a master of the craft of storytelling with each iteration just the little bit special for its own reason. It’s easy to get lost in the world and think to yourself, just one more story and then I’ll put down the book, only to find yourself 2 hours later having not moved.


It’s the range of experiences that Lingard constructs that really stands out to the reader. The ability to adapt to various time frames, a host of believable and yet distinctly removed from the world characters, humour, sadness and poignancy that seems to come so effortlessly from Lingard.


Reading more about the author it is surprising to acknowledge her foray into writing later than contemporaries of the genre. Perhaps building on a wealth of life experience, Lingard hits at the heart of the matter in an often matter of fact way, but never loses sight of the importance of quality prose to lift the plot from mediocre, to sublime.


The Curtain Diary, for example, is a sweet example of quality short story writing where the craft is on full display, creating memorable characters (in this one the character is travelling and the narrative is progressed via the use of the diary entry trope) and exploring foreign yet familiar land and sound scapes throughout - the train travel that permeates the story. The reader cannot help but be entranced by the rhythmic approach to the narrative and the episodic style that is prevalent throughout the collection.


Overall, this is a wonderfully rich source of material from a talented and engaging writer of the short form. Short stories are such a wealth of skill and application that is so often overlooked for their big sibling - the novel. Yet, with writers such as Lingard offering quality prose such as can be found in the collection Pocket Money and other stories it is imperative that we promote the style much more rigorously.


Reviewer: Chris Reed

Artistry

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