This book is a bit of a departure for me, not only in tone and format, but also in publisher. Everything is So Political boasts a topic I typically wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot-pole. Why? Because politics make me nervous, I don’t like discussing them in group situations, and I usually find the subject terribly boring when reading about it. However, my opinion was most recently swayed. This collection of short stories includes an introduction by the editor Sandra McIntyre, who explains that all fiction is political in its own way, because every writer will have opinions about something or someone, which is impossible to separate from your own work. This idea is quite basic, but I totally agree with it. In a previous post of mine, I argued that I didn’t like when authors shoved their opinions down a reader’s throat, however the stories in this collection do the exact opposite; they force you to question what you’re reading, and examine their stories within the context of your own opinions.
The perceived seriousness of the topic should not reflect the collection itself because many of the stories are lighthearted in their own way, and all are very different from each other as well. There are twenty different stories in all, each by a different writer, so if you liked the anthology I reviewed here, this is a very similar format that you should enjoy. Some stories lean towards the romantic (one might even argue, erotic), while some have a sci-fi feel to them. One of my favourites was “Elephant Air” by Fran Kimmel (full disclosure here, Fran is a friend of mine). I had no idea she was involved in this collection until I came upon her story, but I found it one of the most affecting because a particular scene she describes involving an elephant and a very young girl literally took my breath away. I was reading it on a train ride home after work one day, and after I finished reading a particularly striking sentence I had to look up and out of the window because I needed a moment to catch my breath and reflect on what I had read (I hate to sound corny here, but that doesn’t happen to me often). But I’m not the only one who enjoyed this story, Kimmel won an award for it, so that proves it’s a piece of writing worth raving about.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that this book was a departure for me in publisher as well. Why do I say that? Because I’ve worked in the publishing industry, I pay close attention to the publishers of the books I read. I can honestly say I’ve never heard of Fernwood Publishing, but now that I’ve read one book of theirs, I’m confident I could enjoy some of their other offerings. However, I will say their slogan made me a bit uneasy: “Critical Books for Critical Thinkers”. I’m a critical person when it comes to reading, however I wouldn’t say I gravitate towards “critical” books, because I like a good dose of fluff on my bookshelf when possible. But maybe I’m not giving myself enough credit? If I can read and enjoy a book with the word ‘political’ in the title, the sky’s the limit!