Watch & Wait is an anthology put together to raise awareness of the cancer lymphoma (even the title of the collection is named after what patients do between treatments: watch and wait), and as Illness can be personal but still effect the people closest to us, it’s fitting that many of the stories in it revolve around relationships.
The opening story, Jungle Palace, by Angela Robson, explores people’s potential for brutality with ease and is one of the most memorable stories in the book – despite feeling like a snippet of a larger story. The following tales are less graphic and have different themes but are in no way less enjoyable. Bryony Doran’s Suppose I was to tell you . . . is an excellent look at a different culture through the eyes of a character that is watching from the outside in. Robson’s Wedding Pictures and Jemma Kennedy’s Fig Tree also touch on this theme to good effect. Further in the anthology recurring themes of support, love, isolation and jealousy are explored in stories such as The Enemy Within, Red Stripe Candy and Ghost Baby. Ian McMillan and David Swann also bring humour to the collection with their stories Mr Mason’s Story and Cock of the Block, the latter being immensely entertaining and one of the highlights of the book.
As with many anthologies, I did not enjoy every story in equal measure: Marian and the Merchild and Out of Her Mind fell into this category for me – although both stories do bring yet another change of setting. Similarly, the difference in writing style for each author is welcome and is something to look forward to throughout the anthology, but I thought Ghost Baby and Fahrenheit 4591 were exceptions to this. Both have an unusual structure. And I found Fahrenheit 4591 to be an especially frustrating piece. After reading it I was left with fragments of writing that I felt never really came together. On the other hand, Harry Shukman’s the Venice Faxes, which is cleverly told through faxed messages, I thoroughly enjoyed.
The authors who have given their time to form this anthology have created a collection that is both worth reading and for a good cause. Watch & Wait is successful at being a mixture of tales that entertainingly explore the lives, states and stories of people.
- Reasons to read: a diverse collection of stories that shines best in the unique style of each contributor and the high standard of writing.
- Reading level: easy/medium.
- Length: 243 pages.
- Where to get: Amazon.
- Favourite quote: “It was just a matter of time, she’d warned us. We’re early die-ers, us lot. But you don’t miss your life before you have it, so why should you miss it afterwards?”
Have you read Watch & Wait? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments