Backchat: Mothers

Chris Power, Mothers

Chris Power, Mothers.
Faber & Faber. £10.
Buy direct from the publisher.

Splice publishes new content on Mondays and Wednesdays, but throughout the week we bulk it out with bonus material on Facebook and Twitter. On Fridays, “Backchat” looks at the week that was and gathers up all the bonus material in one place.

This week, Splice focused on Chris Power’s début short story collection Mothers. David Hebblethwaite contributed a review of the book, and Power himself answered a few questions about his writing process and his habits as a reader.

Power’s publishers at Faber & Faber have been heavily promoting the book, too: they have released a brief video in which Power discusses the book, and they have made available one of the most stories, ‘The Crossing’, together with another video of Power reading the story. Via the Granta website, the story ‘Johnny Kingdom’ is also freely accessible online, and at The White Review you’ll find a third story, ‘Gandalf Goes West’, which isn’t included in Mothers but will give you a taste of Power’s style.

Power’s reading practices are important because, before he became a practitioner of the short story, he spent a few years making his name as a commentator on the form. For The Guardian, he has written more than sixty profiles of short story writers and their work in the not-so-brief ‘Brief Survey of the Short Story’. He has also written extensively on other writers’ short story collections (and the occasional novel) for the New Statesman. And he’s a master at writing essays that take a broader view of the short story form, rather than focusing on any one collection. A few of his best pieces include:

If you’d like to hear Power discussing short stories, rather than reading what he has to say, it’s worth listening to his appearance on the Monocle podcast and especially his appearance on the most recent episode of the Backlisted podcast. For Backlisted, Power chose to read and discuss Denis Johnson’s short story collection Jesus’ Son — which he also recommended in the Splice Q&A — and that’s a good springboard in these last couple of links…

In the second-most recent Backlisted podcast, there’s a very sympathetic, insightful discussion of Power’s own book (it begins around the 10:45 mark) and just this week, writing again for the New Statesman, Power has published a thoughtful review of Johnson’s posthumous story collectionThe Largesse of the Sea Maiden.

That’s all for this week! Next week we’ll be looking at Marilynne Robinson’s What Are We Doing Here?, recently released by Virago: Jack Hanson will review it and Daniel Davis Wood will use it as the starting point for a deeper consideration of Robinson’s essays. Follow Splice on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with everything as it unfolds…