Edition de luxe: A collection of short stories
Last October, I wrote a Monday Musings post on writers-in-residence programs. The first one I listed, because I listed them alphabetically, was Accor Hotels MGallery Literary Collection. This is (or was?) a collaborative program with Melbourne’s The Wheeler Centre. Quoting what I wrote then, ‘it involved providing eight award-winning Australian writers with a short residence in one of Accor’s boutique MGallery hotels and commissioning those authors to write a short story which will be published in a book which will be “presented exclusively to guests at MGallery Hotels”.’ Well, it just so happens that this weekend we are staying in one of these hotels, and what did I find but the book of short stories titled Edition de luxe: A collection of short stories inspired by our hotels. Woo hoo!
It’s a nicely presented little book, with, for each writer, a brief bio, their short story, a brief history of the hotel plus that hotel’s special appeal, photographs, and a “memorable moment” describing something you might be able to enjoy if you stayed at the hotel. This is marketing after all, in addition to offering the treat of a bit of support to writers. The marketing bit comes to the fore when you look at the table of contents. It lists the title of the story, and the name of the hotel at (or about) which it was written, but NOT the name of the writer! Harumph. I’m always irritated when names of authors are not given due recognition in listings.
So, without further ado, I’m going to name the writers, 6 women and 2 men, who appear in the book. They are:
- Favel Parrett (“Gold”)
- Graeme Simsion (“Slideshow”)
- Chris Flynn (“The prophecy, 1931”)
- Robyn Annear (“Batman’s Hill lives”)
- Toni Jordan (“Like a kindness”)
- Debra Oswald (“Dog grooming”)
- Alison Croggon (“Hello”)
- Hannie Rayson (“Pip”)
I’ve read the stories – of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this! They are all 2-3 pages, some fiction, some not. They probably, the fiction ones anyhow, qualify as flash fiction, depending on your definition.
The first story, Favel Parrett’s “Gold”, is a little mood piece about what she sees from the balcony of her room at Mount Lofty House, “her” hotel, naturally. It’s non-fiction, and I enjoyed her description of the end of the day:
Time is measured in light. Evening shadows begin to stretch over the valley. The gold moves further and further away towards the horizon, chased by the sun going down.
The fiction pieces vary in tone from the poignant or sad, like Graeme Simsion’s “Slideshow”, with its little surprise ending, and Alison Croggon’s more worrying “Hello”, to the more lightly humorous, like Chris Flynn’s “The prophecy, 1931” about Walter Lindrum (set in Melbourne’s Hotel Lindrum) and Hannie Rayson’s sperm-donor-inspired final story in the collection, “Pip”. Historian Robyn Annear explores Melbourne’s Batman’s Hill, razed in the 1860s to make way for the railway, in her story “Batman’s Hill lives”, and Toni Jordan, in the Blue Mountains, recounts a chance encounter, which may or may not be real but which makes a sweet story, in “Like a kindness”. But, perhaps, though it’s hard to choose, I most liked Debra Oswald’s “Dog grooming” with its tale of subversion and catharsis.
I won’t say more. These are little pieces, perfect for reading in a hotel at the end of a busy working or travelling day. Quality writers, thoughtful stories. I wonder what, if any, feedback Sofitel/Accor and the Wheeler Centre have had, how the writers found the experience, and whether the project will be repeated.