Charles C May’s blog, Reading the Short Story, is a must read for anyone interested in the critical study of short fiction. Mr May is an academic who has spent many years reading and writing about short fiction and has published a number of books on the subject, including, most recently, the excellent ‘I Am Your Brother : Short Story Studies’. Recently I have been enjoying his blog posts on the Best British Short Stories anthologies and was thrilled to find that my Yeovil Prize winning story, Half-mown Lawn was amongst his favourite stories from the 2012, alongside three other stories from Michael Marshall Smith, Julien Gough, and Ramsey Campbell. That’s fantastic company to be in.
Here’s what Mr May had to say about my story:
“Half-mown Lawn,” by Dan Powell: Sometimes it is the simplicity and restraint of a story that affects me both emotionally and aesthetically. In Dan Powell’s story of a woman whose husband has died recently of a heart attack while mowing the lawn, Powell creates just the right balance between the woman’s effort to reconcile the past with the present, juxtaposing everyday needs (a shopping list) and breathless loss (a list of everyday things she will miss about her husband), keeping things the same (preventing her son from finishing the lawn) and adjusting to change (missing the smell of her husband in the bed sheets her daughter has thoughtfully washed). And then the ending, often the most important part of a short story. Sometimes in short stories, the emotional pain is so inexpressible that the only way it can be dealt with is in a gesture, even a foolish gesture, that becomes a metaphor for the emotional complexity of the story. When the woman lies down in the outline of her husband in the fresh mown grass, it seems both aesthetically and emotionally inevitable.
Such a wonderful surprise to find one of my stories being given such positive attention from such a respected figure in the world of short fiction.