Sunday indulgence at Lewes Short Story Club
We and our American cousins have plenty of cultural clashes, not least over what we believe constitutes both chips and irony. There is one point of difference however that has always baffled me.
The short story is a well respected form in the States, penned by big names like Raymond Carver, Edgar Allen Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Stephen King (a staggering 35 of his short stories have been made into films). Here, it has always been a poor relation to the novel and the average person will probably associate short stories with soppy romantic fiction in women’s mags.
In these days of tablets and sound bites, surely the short pithy story should be ripe for a resurgance? A little band of fans in Lewes certainly thinks so. Lewes Short Story Club is a free monthly book group with a difference. Firstly, as you’ve probably guessed, all the reading material is short stories, and secondly, you don’t have to read anything before the day – just turn up.
It’s been running a few months now in the sunny front window seats of Waterstones or, when a larger crowd, it’s back room, and as a short story fan myself I always go along when I can.
It’s all thanks to freelance writer and editor and ‘novelist-in-waiting’ Holly Dawson who generously not only selects the fiction each month but also reads it to the group. So, all you have to do is turn up and enjoy, reading along on the printouts if you like.
Each meet has a theme – we’ve had America and Latin America and a month of women writers including Janet Frome, the subject of the film An Angel at My Table, who was saved from a labotomy in a notorious psychiatric hospital when her writing won an award.
There’s a discussion about each story afterwards but no imperative to join in. A range of ages come along and while some people are well read and even write their own fiction, others simply enjoy a good story. It’s all very friendly and informal so if you can only make part of the session just grab a coffee and pull up a chair when you arrive. You don’t need to attend every month, just when you can – though as it’s got popular you’ll now need to drop Holly a line in advance to request a place so she can check there’s still room at the table.
The coffee counter is just a couple of metres away, oh yes and there’s some very decent cake too. What’s more, Waterstones gives a 30% discount on any books you buy after the club. It’s a lovely way to enjoy a Sunday morning and you can browse some of Lewes’s boutiques afterwards.
If you’re a writer or would-be writer, also keep tabs on the website for the frequent reasonably priced writing workshops, for all abilities, hosted by established authors, that are an off-shoot of the club. There’s also a weekly writing group.
If you can’t make the next session, check out the rather charming ‘prescriptions’ part of the website where you can fill in your ailment (melancholy, heartbreak, stress etc) and be prescribed a short story to lift your mood!
Lewes Short Story Club, is generally first Sunday of the month at Lewes Waterstones, just by the bridge, 10.00am-12.00pm but always double check next date on website and email Holly if you’d like to attend. Sign up for the newsletter for the heads up on the next. lewesshortstory.co.uk