Review: Words From a Glass Bubble by Vanessa Gebbie

Monday, July 28, 2008

'Words From a Glass Bubble' Vanessa Gebbie

Words From a Glass Bubble by Vanessa Gebbie

Salt Publishing, 2008

Hardback, 149 pages

ISBN: 1844713997 / 9781844713998

Buy online at BookRabbit (UK) or Amazon (US).

£12.99 / $25.66

"Words from a Glass Bubble" by Vanessa Gebbie is a collection of nineteen of her short stories, compiled in a handsome hardback from Salt Publishing. There's no overarching narrative, but although the stories are very different, some themes and images crop up more than once.

Gebbie's talent is to shine a light onto her characters, giving us brief insights into their lives, their hopes, their disappointments, and--most of all--their mistakes, before moving on, leaving us with the hope that the characters too will carry on, make better decisions, have better luck, once the spotlight is removed.

Each story has its own voice, from "Words in a Glass Bubble" itself, where a family tries to come to terms with the loss of their son, to "Smoking Down There", where a child naively recounts her friend's story of how she almost inadvertently saved her baby brother from being disposed of at birth. The fragmentary, butterfly narrative convinces as that of a child. 'But then, if you smoked down there why didn't the hairs catch fire? That's what I wanted to know. But the bucket. Why wash out of a bucket when there were perfectly nice china things?'

Gebbie doesn't shy away from the darker side of life. One story, "Irrigation", goes into great detail--too great detail for this reader--about an enema. In "Dodie's Gift", the central character is left lost and wondering, "...if someone takes something you were going to give them anyway, is that stealing?' Reading this story, it's hard to decide whether to give her a hug or a good shake. Either, you think, might damage her beyond repair.

This story contains an image that recurs--'But there, at the bottom of the hollow, a gull has had a meal, and the sand holds white bone, red bone, skin....' The predator devours, leaves what it doesn't want, and moves on. What's been devoured, abandoned, somehow has to move on, too. Its life now may not be what it envisaged, but it still holds significance.

None of the stories is too long, although it's easy to feel some are too short. The characters live on in our minds and we can't help wondering what will happen next. If they'll come out all right.

This collection is definitely one to savour. Read a story, put it down, think about it, come back--the whole can't be devoured in an afternoon.

- reddit, digg, facebook, stumbleupon, etc... please! ;)
posted by Debbie

10 comments; 6 subscribers

Monday, July 28, 2008 / 11:49:37
Vanessa Gebbie's story "Jamie Hawkins' Muse" appears in Issue 2 of GUD Magazine.
Monday, July 28, 2008 / 11:56:45
For a chance to win the review copy of "Words From a Glass Bubble", tell us in comments what helpful words of advice you'd leave in your glass bubble for the next person who comes along.

It's only a small bubble, so no more than ten words each, please!

Contest open to UK/EU only; contest ends 14th August (midnight pacific time).
Friday, August 8, 2008 / 13:17:06
To clarify:

Imagine you can leave a few words of advice in a little bubble of glass. The next person to pass that way will hear what you said. What words of wisdom would you like to pass on?
Friday, August 8, 2008 / 13:22:11
Or, heck, just leave your name....
Friday, August 8, 2008 / 14:14:58
my words of wisdom would be :

Don't sweat the small stuff !

cheryl :-)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008 / 17:08:35
My words of wisdom:

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try

Saturday, August 16, 2008 / 04:34:16
all i would say is

every cloud has a silver lining
Tuesday, August 19, 2008 / 09:19:17
My words of wisdom - not necessarily positive, but very practical - would be:

Better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008 / 02:40:07
We haven't forgotten you--winner will be announced asap!
Saturday, September 6, 2008 / 16:11:10
And the winner is...stuckinabook! Congratulations!

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