Sunday, March 05, 2017

Raw Material - Sue Wilsea

Sent to me by the Publisher in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: 03/11/16

Publisher: Valley Press

ISBN: 978-1908853783

Format: Paperback, 123pp

Genre: Short Stories

Rating: 3/5

Summed up in a few words
Invention. Senses. Culture. Writing.

First Impressions
Raw Material is deeply rooted in the more common, emotional and frustrating scenarios we face as humans everyday. Stories concerning real life pain, loss, invention, culture and truth. After finishing the book I felt that, even though the stories were well written and poignant, they were ultimately rather forgettable. Sue Wilsea has great talent and an impressive knowledge of the human condition, but the stories here are too 'quick-fire' (15 in 126 pages). Personally I look forward to reading some of SW's longer work, where I can settle in and appreciate her compelling and emotional writing for longer periods of time.

Book Synopsis
Raw Material is a new collection of short stories from one of Hull's foremost twenty-first century writers. Some of the characters in these tales are writers too - others are murderers, some are both. One is Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant. Some may not be human; but that would be telling.

My Thoughts
Raw Material is a short story collection jammed with punchy, thought-provoking and real life scenarios. The stories shine a light on conventional life experiences, giving new perspectives to common situations we may find ourselves in during our lives. From facing cancer as a family, losing a loved one in an accident and old age to inappropriate relationships, stressful marriages and finding that new big idea!

Sue Wilsea approaches each story carefully, not giving away to much. Every story is well developed and consistent. I was not a fan of the length of the stories; I felt that there should have been fewer, longer stories. SW writing style is complex and inventive, which doesn't work as well in a shorter time frame. SW seems to be a riskier writer, using content and context that goes out of the comfort zone. There are great atmospheres and themes weaved into these stories. 

My favourite story has to be The Yorkshire Pantry. A snippet of a stressful marriage, with all the anger, frustration and plotting that comes with it. The title story Raw Material is the most unusual and interesting. Using an unusual perspective and highlighting a part of the world that very few of us really consider too much. Among the amusing and some-what terrifying stories are some more difficult stories to appreciate. Inappropriate relationships and the last moments of an elderly lady both haunted me and made me squirm.

I have given Raw Material 3/5 because I felt that the stories were too short and though there are some cracking stories here, several are fairly forgettable. SW writing is high quality and enjoyable, but I would have enjoyable fewer, longer stories. The stories I enjoyed had so much potential for more depth and I would like to have spent more time with them. I am seriously looking forward to a novel, SW has a interesting perspective on the human condition and I would like to see that explored more in a longer piece.

Thank you for reading this review. Please check out Sue Wilsea's work and tell me what you think in the comments below. Pick up a copy of Raw Material here: Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads 

About the Author: Sue Wilsea's work is with words, whether that's writing, performing or teaching. Her fiction and poetry has been widely published and broadcast, and 2012 saw the publication of her first collection of short stories, Staying Afloat. In 2014 she gained an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. As a freelance Arts practitioner Sue currently delivers Creative Writing classes and undertakes a wide range of writing/literature-based projects. She has four grown-up children, lives with her husband in North Lincolnshire and buys too many books and earrings. (Official Bio)

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