Persephone Books, 2017
The stories in The Journey Home and Other Stories are from the following collections :
Frost in April (1929)
No Luggage (1930)
Five for Silver (1932)
Honeymoon & Other Stories (1934)
Sue introduced me to Persephone Books years ago by giving me some of their editions and taking me to visit their beautiful shop in London. They publish neglected works by twentieth-century women authors. https://www.persephonebooks.co.uk
More recently, I found The Journey Home and Other Stories by Malachi Whitaker in Sue’s giveaway bag. Months later when she saw me reading it on a GV (Girlfriends Vacation) she said, “Oh, I have that at home, I think I’ll read it again when I get back.” I had to remind her, “This is yours, you gave it away!” But Sue, if you're reading, I’ll give it back to you as soon as I finish this post, as I understand you'd want to reread these stories. Also, I advise you to find other volumes of Whitaker's stories and when you’re done, please proceed to putting them in your giveaway bag but only for me!
I hadn’t heard of this woman writer named Malachi (born Marjorie), but thought her short stories might be good for short-timed reading needs, like on the metro, or as in my case, a train-ride to Brittany for that GV.
I admit I wasn’t convinced by the Preface’s opening statement that while “not many authors are absolutely unique…Malachi Whitaker is not like other authors,” and thought skeptically, “right, that’s what they all say.” However, I was promptly startled into admitting my error while reading the first, and strangely scary story, "The Journey Home".
The Preface (by Philip Hensher) goes on to say, “it is inexplicable how English letters failed to find a place for a writer of such verve, colour, range and power.” He calls her “one of the great English short story writers” and says that her work is slowly starting to get more attention.
Each story is different and the main action is often based on a seemingly small but very odd event. I found the stories to be little jewels in a box (the box being the book cover, Persephone’s editions have very subtle, simple grey covers, so the jewels inside can shine all the more).
If I write more my post will be longer than a short story and I must now leave you to discover Malachi Whitaker on your own. I hope you will.
Meanwhile, I’ll give (or lend?) my copy back to Sue, and see if she has more for me in her giveaway bag. If she doesn’t, I plan on getting my own copies, the stories are that good.
Now, on the other hand, if you’re like one of my good friends and don’t like short stories in general, well then I really can’t help you on this one!
I don’t have much to offer here in the way of notes; I only turned down the corner on one page, noting this beautiful sentence:
She grasped at the dream of complete life between two seconds of time. p. 130