It just appeared there in the corner of my eye. Not literally, obviously. But as I meandered through the children’s bookshop at Charlotte Square, mentally ticking all the books I had read or already had waiting for me, I noticed one I didn’t know at all.
Our City is an anthology in support of the OneCity Trust, just like the adult crime anthology I read a while ago. They clearly know what they are doing, getting great authors to write short stories for free and publishing them for the good of Edinburgh’s less fortunate inhabitants.
Ever the autograph hunter I couldn’t help noticing that five of the ten authors were at the book festival, and that in itself seemed like a good start. Reader, I bought the book. The only one I bought. And it’s a good one.
Julie Bertagna, Cathy Cassidy, Alison Flett, Vivian French, John Fardell, Keith Gray, Elizabeth Laird, Jonathan Meres, Nicola Morgan and Alison Prince have all written a story that has something to do with Edinburgh. That in itself made it the best possible souvenir from the festival.
John Fardell has illustrated not just his own cartoon contribution, but the stories of all the others and also the front cover. It’s the sort of cover that had me turn the book round and round, as John has drawn a circular Edinburgh, with all the bits from the stories fitting neatly together. So you can twirl and twirl, and then you fall over.
There are historical tales, a story about witches (what else?), a sad story, an almost political story, a traditional fairy tale, and science fiction even. They are all marvellous in their own way. I liked the pied piper. I enjoyed the sad bus story. The smiling alien was good. The cruel stepfather was interesting. How to beat the school bully. Cathy Cassidy managed to incorporate her friendship bracelets into hers. And then there’s the witches. Nice ladies.
I love anthologies. Especially when they are made up of the right kind of short stories written by my kind of people. And this charitable type of effort is a wonderful idea. I was going to say we need more of them, but I suppose if you have too many the idea stops working.
But is is a good idea.