Thursday, 12 March 2020

The Almost Mothers - Laura Basley

Celebrating motherhood in its myriad hues.

I first came across Laura Besley's words through a six word challenge called the shortstorysept on Twitter. During the week-long competition, I found myself looking forward to her tweets. I loved how she could make even an "Oh" work in her favour.

When I got down to reviewing this collection, her comfortable grip on the craft quickly came to fore.  As title suggests, The Almost Mothers is a compilation of her pieces on the wonderous, maddening journey called motherhood.  The collection explores its complexity, coloured in emotions and filled with perspective.


Laura Besley writes short (and very short) fiction in the precious moments that her children are asleep. Her fiction has appeared online (Fictive Dream, Spelk, Ellipsis Zine) as well as in print (Flash:The International Short Story magazine) and in various anthologies (Adverbally Challenged, Another Hongkong, Story Cities). The Almost Mothers is her first collection. 

What works:

The Killer First Piece : 
The last line of the very first piece "Mothers Anonymous" felt like being hit in the face and I found myself enjoying it. For me, it set the tone for rest of the collection with punchy pieces clothed in great writing.

Packed with emotion: 
The piece that gave the book its title, "The Almost Mothers" is heartbreaking about a mother's thoughts about her son. "Breaking the Seal" on the hand, tilts the view from the other side. Pain cuts through the cleverly crafted pieces of "That Face" and "The Unmothers" and yet the humour in "Super Mum" and "Hooked" show off Besley's versatility.

Unusual structures:
I also loved how different formats (recipes/contracts/reports) in  "How to Grow Your Baby", "Motherhood Contract", "Down to Earth" were effectively used.
Title extends the life of the story: 
Besley's titles offer as much insight as the pieces themselves. The titles "Mothers Anonymous" "Near and Far" "All the Children" take on a whole new meaning once you get to the end. I found myself going back to the beginning after making the connection, enjoying them even more.

In a Nutshell:

All pieces are centred around the theme and yet each piece can be seen as a standalone. An enjoyable collection indeed.

You can easily dip in and out but.... it is hard. The lingering aftereffect forces you to go back for more.

(Disclaimer: I received a copy in return for an honest review)


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