Book review: Other Places by Edited by Nicholas Litchfield

Other Places by Edited by Nicholas Litchfield
Other Places by Edited by Nicholas Litchfield
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If you can’t afford a holiday in foreign climes this summer, why not take an armchair tour of some of the world’s most interesting and exotic locations?

Other Places, a mouth-watering feast of short stories, poems, narrative non-fiction, and in-depth interviews with acclaimed authors, is the latest anthology from the much-admired Lowestoft Chronicle (www.lowestoftchronicle.com), an eclectic and innovative online journal of new writing focusing on travel and humour.

This vibrant literary forum is the brainchild of author and editor Nicholas Litchfield, an English-born librarian who lives in Western New York and whose mission – to borrow the words of author Scott Dominic Carpenter – is to provide ‘the literary equivalent of Rick’s Café in Casablanca, where travellers of all stripes pull up a stool and swap stories at the bar.’

Each year, the Lowestoft Chronicle, named in honour of Litchfield’s sojourns in the Suffolk coastal town, produces a print anthology of the best pieces from the online editions of the magazine, and this year’s book is ‘the perfect breadth and size to serve a round of Rick’s cocktails.’

Packed into the pages are stories to entice, enthral, and entertain, from a professor’s adventure through Greece in search of a prophetess, and a surfer’s battle with sharks and a rival in Brazil, to a disastrous run with the bulls in Spain. As Litchfield promises us in his introduction, Other Places is ‘chock-full of short yet satisfying moments of high drama.’

Revel in the exotic backdrop of Cambodia where violent chaos arises when a straightforward business meeting goes very badly in ‘The Cambodian Void: An Apology’ by Soren A. Gauger. Marvel at the inventiveness of Mary Donaldson-Evans’s sparklingly witty ‘Curious in Corsica: A Tale of Two Couples’ featuring a fixated eavesdropper prying into a married couple’s unhappy relationship. Or be seduced by ‘Uprisings at Cap d’Antibes,’ Robert Mangeot’s acutely observed tale of revolution at a tennis academy in the glittering Cote d’Azur.

And there are plenty of extraordinary non-fiction stories to amuse and delight, not least ‘My Driver, Sunday’ by Mona Zutshi Opubor in which a woman relates her comic yet frustrating experiences adapting both to life in Lagos, Nigeria, and to her incompetent chauffeur.

Litchfield also serves up a tasty blend of pleasing and deftly prepared poems. They include Stephen Cloud’s examination of the complex city of Bangkok in ‘Bangkok of the Mind,’ Jay Parini’s stirring spiritual poem ‘Midrash,’ and the wonderfully clever, witty ‘Shooing Flies’ by David Havird.

And if you still aren’t sated by this literary banquet, tuck into Litchfield’s incisive and enlightening interviews with three critically acclaimed, multitalented writers. Award-winning author Sheldon Russell discusses his famous one-armed railroad detective Hook Runyon, as well as his work in progress.

Poet, novelist, biographer and critic Jay Parini talks about his early writing career, Scotland and some of his more recent books. And Scott Dominic Carpenter, a professor of French literature and literary theory, reveals all about his highly acclaimed debut novel, Theory of Remainders, his debut story collection, This Jealous Earth, and his amusing non-fiction story for Lowestoft Chronicle, ‘Danish as She is Spoke.’

Other Places is the perfect holiday destination, offering truly original locations, a cast of unforgettable travellers, some fun-filled outings, and plenty of local colour. So, head to the bar, pour a stiff whisky, and enjoy the warmth, spirit and fire of one of the best literary collections this side of Casablanca!

Other Places is available to buy from all the major online booksellers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and the magazine’s own website at www.lowestoftchronicle.com.

(Lowestoft Chronicle Press, paperback, £10.95)