12 March 201016 March 2010 Main Posts Is it a must? Irma Gold Surely there is nothing better than sitting, book in hand, in Tilley’s (for the uninitiated, one of Canberra’s most iconic and deliciously moody cafes named after the infamous Kings Cross prostitute Tilley Devine). Sunlight drips languorously through lime-coloured leaves, with the smells of cinnamon and nutmeg rising from my glass of chai. And this: 10 Short Stories You Must Read This Year. The book has sat in a pile on my bedside table gathering dust for some time. Has been passed over repeatedly in favour of other books, and all because of its title. Shouted at me in caps, it makes me wary. But on this hazy summer afternoon I open its pages expectantly. I feel relieved to discover a few gems: Monica McInerney’s beautifully-crafted and poignant story about a woman who discovers the art of letter writing, Thomas Keneally’s about a teacher who becomes dangerously infatuated with his Sudanese student, and Jack Marx’s story written in the form of a letter from a man to his dead wife, which builds disturbingly to its bleak conclusion. But disappointingly the remaining stories, mostly dealing with matters of the heart, fail to fully engage me. Often aiming for humour, they prove to be light, easy to digest but ultimately unsatisfying and lacking in substance. The fast food of short fiction. The book, commissioned as part of the Books Alive campaign, was distributed free during September last year (yes, it’s been gathering dust for a while) with the purchase of any book on the campaign’s list. In previous years the free book has been a short work by a single author, and while the idea to produce an anthology was a good one, for me the result falls short of the mark. And there’s the issue of that title. I expected to be dazzled with pitch-perfect prose and searing storytelling, and was left feeling cheated. Enjoyable? Yes. A must read? Sadly, no. It’ll be interesting to see what they produce this year. As antidote that evening I pull out my well-worn copy of Cate Kennedy’s collection, Dark Roots. A master of the short story, her prose reels me in, fills me up. I read every page gluttonously, and leave satiated. Now there’s a must read. Irma Gold Irma Gold is an award-winning writer and editor. Her short fiction has been widely published in Australian journals and her debut collection of short fiction, Two Steps Forward, was released in September 2011 (Affirm Press). She is also the author of two children’s books and is currently working on her first novel. You can follow her on Facebook. More by Irma Gold Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 24 February 202317 March 2023 Main Posts Final Results of the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry Prize Editorial Team Overland, the judges and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation are thrilled to announce the final results of the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry Prize. First published in Overland Issue 228 24 February 202317 March 2023 Main Posts Final Results of the 2022 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize Editorial Team Overland, the judges and the Malcolm Robertson Foundation are thrilled to announce the final results of the 2022 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize.