For many authors, Booker winner Kazuo Ishiguro among them, the short story form is a fertile training ground, where they can plant and nurture ideas and themes that will one day grow into tall oaks of novels (if you’ll bear with the tree analogy).
Orlando Ortega-Medina’s debut short story collection, the first title from new independent publisher Cloud Lodge Books, is full of literary promise, each story a vignette of troubled characters that leaves the reader yearning for the next chapter in their lives.
Some of the stories don’t quite capture the imagination – Star Party reading like an exercise in dialogue writing and perhaps a freshman tale – but when they work, they’re beautifully wrought, deeply unnerving and will stay with you.
After The Storm tells of the wife of a lighthouse keeper, who finds a dead body washed up on the sand, and in her loneliness, looks after it with a fierce passion.
Torture By Roses, a homage to Japanese author Mishima Yukio, tells of a young student who becomes fearfully indentured to an elderly and tortured patron of the arts, while the titular story, Jerusalem Ablaze is about a young priest going to visit a prostitute.
Ortega-Medina holds a mirror up to our darkest thoughts and urges – while showing the oneness of the human condition.
Expect to be hearing more from him.