I get sent a lot of short stories. Some contain a good idea but have failed to follow it through, some are incomprehensible, some are one-dimensional and some are just badly written. Bruce’s stories are none of these things.
I know a story is good when I emerge at the end, having been totally lost in it. There are characters to identify with, a narrative to follow and, most importantly, skilful writing. Less adept writers tend to jolt me back out of the story with something as mundane as a grammatical error or an unconvincing piece of dialogue.
A facility to write a story is one thing but Bruce has the ideas too. Bruce will draw the reader in to some unlikely or unfamiliar situation which is so perfectly created that you remain utterly absorbed. He will take care to form the characters so that you feel you know them - and then he tells the story.
Dave Pick - Editor, www.winamop.com
From Segora - www.poetryproseandplays.co.uk
Specific reference to ‘Cleaning Up’, one of the included stories A charmingly insouciant story deftly told: a bold idea that could catch on – turning the tables on corporate power – with an unusual cleaning-up operation. Short-listed for Segora in 2011 it was much enjoyed by organisers Jocelyn & Gordon Simms. Congratulations to Bruce on another fine example of story-telling.
Gordon Simms – organiser, Segora Competitions
From Grace Dieu Writers’ Circle – www.gracedieuwriterscircle.co.uk
I read First Flame, the debut short story collection of Bruce Harris, in almost a single sitting. The stories are in the main sharp concise with a clear sense of direction, stories that don’t beat about the bush but describe the foliage beautifully as they move by. Although individually they have gained plenty of plaudits, it is here, where they are woven together, that the pieces begin to take on a bigger meaning and to create a mood that is greater than the sum of their parts.
The tales are poignant, sharply told and perfectly illustrated with expressive language that never tends towards the overly ornate but emphasises the ever present grit of reality around which the string of pearl like stories are fashioned. The stories themselves range from the down at heel as in the opening – ‘A Normal Life’ – to the learned – ‘Across A Crowded Room’ - to the very English smut farce and ambition of ‘Appetites’.
These stories are as British as an inclement Sunday afternoon riddled with emotion, invariably exposing painful truths the way such family Sundays often do, but they never lose their nerve and are never overwhelmed by pathos.
A personal favourite is ‘Wardrobes’, where identity is shed and acquired with nothing more than a change of clothes and there is something of that in these stories - an integral style, a constant world view, a brittle Englishness all examined through the varying perspectives of these diverse but blood related tales.
Darren Sharman - reviewing member
From Sentinel Champions magazine www.sentinelpoetry.org.uk/champions/
Specific Reference to ‘Colouring Matthew’, one of the included stories
I found ‘Colouring Matthew’ by Bruce Harris especially tender and sad…Matthew captured
in a portrait on canvas by his best friend at the twilight of his life. An outstanding
achievement by Harris that may yield itself to cinematic treatment someday, I predict’.
Nnorom Azuonye, editor, Sentinel Champions.
From David Gardiner, Editor, www.golddustmagazine.co.uk
Specific reference to ‘Tuesday’s Demons’, one of the included stories
‘The story that I liked best was Tuesday's Demons, where the fast pace of the accident
description balances out the 'wordiness' of the first three paragraphs. Overall, I thought it
was a first class story’.
David Gardiner, Prose Editor, ‘Gold Dust’.
From Cheer Reader www.cheerreader.co.uk
‘Whatever subjects he touches, and in whatever vein, Bruce Harris certainly knows how to entice the reader. A highly recommended collection from a writer who is definitely going places’.
Brian David, editor, Cheer Reader
From John McDermott, Writer and Contributor, www.writersmuseonline.com
Specific reference to ‘At The End of The Day’, one of the included stories
‘My favourite was At The End of the Day by Bruce Harris. The sub-text of football type commentary turned what might have been a mundane tale of corruption into something funny and original’.
From Di Pavey, Writer and Contributor, www.writersmuseonline.com
‘Bruce Harris’s piece was a delight as usual – it was through being loaned a copy of the Muse because it contained one of Bruce’s stories that set me to writing again, so I thank our mutual acquaintance, Bruce, and yourself for re-opening what had become a closed chapter’.
Book available at www.circaidygregory.co.uk/shortstories.htm
Cover artwork: Icelandic Field © Katherine Reekie 2013 reproduced by kind permission of the artist www.katherinereekie.co.uk
See also Huntington’s Disease Association link
'There is strength and warmth, toughness and kindness in these stories, making up a collection that is spirited and uplifting’ – Alison Moore, www.alison-moore.com , whose first novel, ‘The Lighthouse’, was short-listed for the Booker Prize.
‘Harris displays an enviable skill in manipulating this huge variety with confidence and conviction, as well as crafting denouements that are always touching and often surprising, avoiding, as he does, predictable happy endings’…...’if you’re up against your own odds and want to be diverted, touched, uplifted or amused, then this is the book for you – and in buying it you’re contributing to a truly worthwhile cause’
Wendy Perriam, www.wendyperriam.com, author of 18 novels and 8 collections of short stories.
‘Subjects pertinent to the present day are tackled effectively in Devil’s Evening and One Man’s Paradise. While, more than a century earlier, a nurse is radicalised while caring for the suffragette killed by the king’s horse in the excellent Emily’s Derby. Three stories, to use racing parlance, that I particularly fancied. And for those readers hoping for a dash of humour and sharp, amusing dialogue, they will find it in, among others, Decisions, Decisions, These Foolish Things and the Bridport Prize listed Roxanne Riding Hood’
Maggie Ling, www.maggieling.com , novelist and short story writer.
ODDS AGAINST REVIEW COMMENTS
‘Bruce Harris's stories shine a wry light on the human condition. He disarms you with his delightful sense of humour and characters that feel like old friends. You'll get sucked into the story right from the first line, and it'll echo in your head after the last. One of my favourite authors that I've published at Fiction on the Web’
Charlie Fish, editor, www.fictionontheweb.co.uk
‘Bruce Harris’s Odds Against is a beautifully written and emotionally uplifting collection of short stories. His stories have heart, intelligence and emotional acuity.
Odds Against is an apposite title for the collection as, in these stories, hope is rarely extinguished, the human spirit often triumphing in adversity. Here the reader will find love in many forms, tenderness and humanity’
John Holland, www.johnhollandwrites.com, short story writer and writers’ group organiser.
‘Many of the stories are very original….I think it's fascinating, beautiful, well-written, witty’
Jonathan Taylor, www.jonathanptaylor.co.uk , novelist, short story writer and lecturer in Creative Writing.