Litro Magazine/Kingston University Press/Paperback/163 pages/$22.05/Bookdepository.com/3.5/5
Anthologies can be patchy things, chaining together writers of disparate styles and abilities into an uneasy whole.
Voices jostle, themes clash. The reader begins at the beginning, again and again; arrives at the end, over and over.
It is for this reason, however, that I love anthologies. They are the speed-dating equivalent of finding an author you want to settle down with.
And in this slim volume - a collection of the 26 best short stories published in London literary magazine Litro, founded in 2005 - one discovers a number of up-and- coming writers to fall in love with.
The book opens with a big name: American writer Anthony Doerr, whose second novel, All The Light We Cannot See, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction earlier this year.
Anthologies are the speed-dating equivalent of finding an author you want to settle down with. And in this slim volume - a collection of the 26 best short stories published in London literary magazine Litro, founded in 2005 - one discovers a number of up-and- coming writers to fall in love with.
Doerr's story, Trees, is a quiet tale about an employee at a semi- conductor company who gets the urge to photograph trees - revealing the crumbling roots of his marriage.
Editors Eric Akoto and Dan Coxon have kept an eye on global diversity, including works by the likes of Chloe Aridjis, who grew up in the Netherlands and Mexico City and has a doctorate from Oxford in French poetry and magic shows; Danish writer Trine V. Ipsen, Cyprus-born Polis Loizou, and Nigerian-Belgian Chika Unigwe.
Stories shade from the traditional well-wrought tale, the modern epiphany, to the experimental.
Singapore's own Jeremy Tiang contributes Schwellenangst, a lovely piece about the encounter between a young teacher and a Swedish couple near a concrete hotel built by the Nazis in Germany.
Histories collide and shear off in unexpected directions, and fact entwines with fiction, as the controversial Prora resort is in the news again because of plans to turn it into luxury apartments and a spa.
Other stand-outs: Irish writer Laura McKenna's Cable, about a pair of co-dependent siblings on their annual holiday; and British writer Iain Robinson's post-apocalyptic Kids Come Looking. Kids Come Back.
My favourite is To Become Immortal by Seth Clabough, a set of surreal instructions on how to do just that.
"Wear your father's fedora. Fail at your relationships. Go out for drinks with friends you hate," figure in the prescription.
Fresh, lonely and moving.
If you like this, read: Nothing But You: Love Stories From The New Yorker (Modern Library, 1998, $23.05, Bookdepository.com), a selection of 38 stories from the likes of authors Michael Chabon, Ann Beattie and Jamaica Kincaid, drawn from the storied magazine.