61

The Fiction issue

27.01.2012

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Guest
Editor

The editors of Notes from the Underground (one of whom works at Mother)

Notes from the Underground was founded in a pre-Kindle universe back in 2007. This year will see their fifth anniversary, and they would like to share some of the very best work they have published with you all. Notes from the Underground write about everything here.


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The Accelerant by D.W. Wilson

Notes from the Underground has always spent considerable time on the lookout for the next big thing, and there’s a good chance that next big thing is

D.W. Wilson. Via Canada, where he grew up as the son of a Mountie, he is a graduate of the prestigious University of East Anglia Creative Writing MA, and is now completing a Phd at the same institution. Not long after we published this story, Wilson won the BBC National Short Story Award for his story The Dead Roads. In winning the prize, he beat off competition from shortlisted authors such as Jon McGregor. Sue MacGregor, the chairwoman of the judges and former Today programme presenter described his story as a ‘rattling good read’.

Represented by Curtis Brown, he is finishing up his second novel to be published by Bloomsbury Books.

In this story, also a rattling good read, D.W. helps us to relive the push and shove of adolescence, and the time at which friendship is put under strain by the introduction of the fairer sex. Read it in full here.

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth by William Boyd

William Boyd is a great champion of the short story, though by no means underestimates its trickiness. In an opening remark in a Guardian article in which he looks to set the parameters of the form, he refers to William Faulkner, who found the short story harder to conquer than the novel.

When Notes from the Underground launched in 2007, we firmly believed, as we do now, that the short story can be a gateway through which readers could find try out new authors. When we found out that we would have the opportunity to further publish William Boyd we couldn’t quite believe it.

He kindly offered a short story to us for our inaugural issue; Bethany Mellmoth was born. Bethany was a creation that Mr. Boyd immediately suspected had potential; she has since featured as the title character in various short stories, including in The Spectator and

special shorts collection created to celebrate the Royal Parks. The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth can be seen in various installments online .

To tie this story into SFTW’s more typical themes, it could be seen as featuring a very primitive form of transmedia storytelling, but it probably isn’t. It does however bring to life a quite brilliant Bob Dylan song, and gives a pretty good insight into a dying relationship.

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The Penguin Who Had No Name by Terry Jones

In March 2008, the BBC slipped the nation an April fool. On their relatively new BBC iPlayer, they showcased a snippet from a

nature documentary, narrated by filmmaker, comedian, writer and former python Terry Jones. The short episode showed a number of penguins taking off from their icy Antarctic shelf and having a bit of a fly.

Evidently with penguin on the brain, Terry had written a tale of another penguin, crippled with doubt, struggling against the harsh landscape. We published it. A tale of perspective, it’s definitely one to read at the end of a hard January.

We also commissioned an original illustration for the story, by a now National Portrait Gallery exhibited artist, Athier Mousawi. We have tried to commission as many original illustrations as possible to accompany stories, recognising that they enhance the writing they sit alongside immeasurably.

Moscow Winter by Alexander Nurnberg

Still on the theme of wintry writing, but moving into an area where Notes from the

Underground strives to uncover the unusual and the unusually talented - Reportage. Moscow Winter by Alexander Nurnberg is a perfect example of both of these.

While working for a foreign newspaper in Moscow, Alex was presented with the task of writing about the ‘cold in Russia’. It was very lucky for us that what resulted was this warm tale of the sub-zero, retold with every charming detail intact.

Alexander Nurnberg works at Google in the daytime, but can often be found writing for Craig Raine’s high-brow arts tri-quarterly, Areté Magazine.

The story benefits from another original illustration from Athier Mousawi.

Photo Stories

Photo Stories is an experiment in writing, photography and design.

Put together principally using Flickr and Tumblr (nobody seems to use an ‘e’ in their website anymore), NFTU created a gallery of photographs from a collection of photographers we admired.

We then assembled a pool of authors and let them loose on our Flickr Gallery. Each author picked a photograph, and wrote a short story inspired by its content.

These short stories were edited and subsequently handed over to artists and graphic designers, who, with the content of the photograph and story in mind, created a composite work believed to be greater than the sum of its parts.

This is a Photo Story.
It is an expansion of a seed of an idea that a photographer may have deliberately or inadvertently have placed.;

The exhibition was launched in 2011 with the support of Foyles and Saatchi & Saatchi. We have created 12 artworks now, and they will be touring literary festivals around the country this year.
Please have a look and a read here.

There are also limited edition prints available for purchase should you want a photo story all of your own.

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