With a sharp eye and tough warmth, Lisa Blower strikes a new chord in regional and working-class fiction.
This fabulous collection of her award-winning short stories is dominated by the working-class matriarch. From the wise, witty and outspoken Nan of ‘Broken Crockery’, who has lived and worked in Stoke-on-Trent for all of her 92 years, to happy hooker Ruthie in ‘The Land of Make Believe’, to sleep-deprived Laura in ‘The Trees in the Wood’, to young mum Roxanne in ‘The Cherry Tree’, she appears in many shapes and forms, and always with a stoicism that is hard to break down.
Lisa Blower celebrates her characters with stories they wouldn’t want told. She makes the bleak funny, and brings to life the silent histories and harsh realities of those living on the margins.
‘It’s gone dark over Bill’s mother’s’ is a Potteries’ saying that means it’s looking a bit bleak, a little like rain. With origins as a footless and random as the barflies trying to find their meanings in ‘Happenstance’, it is an expression that sums up this fabulous collection.
Lisa Blower is a creative writing lecturer at Bangor University, where she studied for her PhD. Her academic interests are the short story, creative nonfiction and working-class fictions. She won The Guardian National Short Story Award in 2009, and was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2013 and longlisted for The Sunday Times Short Story Award in 2018.
Read: Broken Crockery, The Guardian
Review: It’s Gone Dark Over Bill’s Mother’s, Morning Star
Prompt: Begin by thinking about your mum. Think about the rhythm of her voice, the phrases she often repeats, her clothes, her mannerisms. Now imagine that she is a stranger to you. What impressions form in your mind? Write a single paragraph starting off with ‘My mum is…’ and see where it takes you. Set your imagination free.