A not-so-sunny May marks the launch of the warm and eclectic short story collection by Bolton-born Anna Wood: Yes Yes More More. Published by The Indigo Press, Wood’s debut is a comical, heart-warming and introspective example of masterful short fiction — an absolute treat for readers and aspiring writers alike.
The book’s blurb promises ‘stories that explore the radical possibilities of pleasure’, something that was immediately apparent even in the first few pages. Delving into the decades of a woman’s life, Wood gives readers a look at unexpected situations, hilarious interactions and surprising characters, all while maintaining absolute clarity and creative use of language.
During her live book launch on Instagram, hosted by the brilliant Alice Slater, Wood shared some interesting insights about the collection and the process of writing it. Written over 10 or so years, Yes Yes More More is truly an example of how time and dedication really does produce precision — and arguably perfection too.
I was intrigued to know how the author’s Northern identity impacted her writing of the book, and asked how place is relevant to her work, particularly in stories like Rise Up Singing which is set in her hometown of Bolton. During the Q&A session, she described Yes Yes More More as very much a ‘northern book’, despite the majority of the stories being set in London. Northerness as a feeling is certainly present throughout; there’s a certain amount of joy, honesty and raw comedy that’s evidently reminiscent of culture in the North.
Rise Up Singing explores a day in the life of two Boltonian teenagers, Janey and the book’s protagonist, Annie Marshall. It’s set in the 90s and they’ve taken acid before their English class — the perfect inciting incident for any great story.
The way the author captures their friendship in glittering moments of dialogue and familiar camaraderie was certainly memorable, something that can be seen throughout the collection. As well as poignantly representing friendship, the story is a whirlwind of place and setting. From lingering in Toys R Us to kissing miscellaneous men in night clubs, Wood has a very unique ability to really bring an age and a location to life.
In Chronicle of a Baffled Spinster, the author documents a year in the life of her protagonist. Each month is captured in small moments: rejection by a man she likes; joy in the presence of music; sexy dresses and smear tests. Reading this story was like seeing life through a series of postcards, the most memorable message of all being that pleasure can be found wherever you choose to acknowledge it. If nothing else, this chronicle brimming with life was just another confirmation that Wood’s collection is pure brilliance.
Yes Yes More More is completely unique. Finding short stories that glow with insights on life, all while causing you to laugh out loud can be quite the feat, one Anna Wood has quite clearly achieved with this masterful debut.
Words: Beth Barker
Beth wanted to contribute a monthly review to NRTH LASS in order to shine a light on Northern women writing great books. The North is very much underrepresented in publishing and she hopes a monthly review throughout 2021 will showcase the talent Northern women have to offer.