Language: English
Genre: Short Stories. Fiction
ISBN: 978-988-8167-35-7
Format: Pbk. 200pp.
Size: 210mm. high by 150mm wide
Published by Proverse Hong Kong, 20 November 2012
Purchase and details link: The Shingle Bar Sea Monster and other Stories

LAURA SOLOMON was Joint-Winner of the inaugural Proverse Prize (2009) with her novella, Instant Messages, subsequently published by Proverse Hong Kong in 2010. Born in New Zealand, she spent nine years in London before returning to New Zealand in 2007. She has an honours degree in English Literature (Victoria University, 1997) and a Masters degree in Computer Science (University of London, 2003). She has published two novels in New Zealand, Black Light (1996) and Nothing Lasting (1997). Her short story collection Alternative Medicine was published in the UK in 2008 and her novel An Imitation of Life was published in the UK in 2009. Her first poetry collection, In Vitro, was published in 2011 by HeadworX (New Zealand). Her plays have been produced at the Wellington (New Zealand) Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (UK). Among other writing prizes, she has twice won a prize in the Bridport (UK) International Short Story Competition. Her short story, "Sprout", first published in the 2004 Bridport Anthology, and later in her short story collection, Alternative Medicine, with Flame Books in the UK, was translated into Czech by Olga Walló and appeared in krásná in the Czech Republic in 2011.

~~"Witty, clear-edged, both lemon-sharp and seductive, Laura Solomon is a writer to watch." -- Maggie Gee, when Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, United Kingdom.

THE SHINGLE BAR SEA MONSTER AND OTHER STORIES uses surrealism and black humour to explore human predicaments, emotions and aspirations, and to suggest solutions to life's challenges. The situations are extraordinary, the aspirations and emotions are common, and the solutions debatable. A young woman is taken to a sea monster's underwater palace and helps the mermaids preserve seaweed. A girl finds that her right hand can no longer feel. Another girl becomes her younger sister's guardian angel. Two men of different tastes and habits struggle to co-exist after the head of one is grafted to the body of the other. An executive experiences uncontrollable anger after undergoing open-brain surgery. Two sisters continue their childhood rivalry after being reminded of a favourite TV programme. A male scientist is forced to give up the child that he himself gave birth to. On the verge of burnout, a jaded London lawyer heads out to the Mojave desert to set up a new life for herself. Ghosts visit two sisters. A girl hears her dead grandmother speak. A modern day Lady Bluebeard lures men to grisly deaths, but adores her seventh husband and cannot bring herself to kill him. A young woman defends her passion for writing. A blind man in love carries a magical cane that makes flowers bloom on the pavement. An amnesiac builds a new life for himself. During the progress of a new relationship, secrets are revealed. A wife suspects her husband of having an affair with a group of mannequins. A woman flies to New Zealand to begin a new life as a romance novelist. Another woman buys a lighthouse through the encouragement of a friend. A schoolboy learns to levitate and is stoned and drowned by jealous classmates. A man finds the button for rewinding his life. Conjoined twins learn to survive and even thrive in the world. The purchase of a duvet leads to estrangement between an established couple, caused by the woman's extraordinary metamorphosis into a feathered winged creature. Always interesting, these stories – with their often bizarre realities – prompt us to see our own lives from the perspective of others. Do we also live in a somewhat off-centre world?

~~"Laura Solomon's stories inhabit the borders between the mundane and the magical. Whether looking for love, or trying to understand a sibling, these stories have a very human heart. Solomon's characters are often looking for answers, and in the process of dealing with their dramas and disappointments they come across those things that can only be glimpsed from the corner of the eye. Sea monsters and angels, head grafts and werewolves, roses blooming from the tip of a blind man's cane.... The fantastic exists, though the miracle can fade with a wrong decision, or an unkind choice. These stories do not provide easy answers: the fantastic does not compensate for foolishness, and there are not always easy explanations. You may be touched by the marvelous, Solomon seems to say, but what happens next is entirely up to you."
--Viki Holmes, Author of miss moon's class (Chameleon, 2008), co-editor of Not A Muse (Haven 2009), in "Early Response to "The Shingle Bar Sea Monster and Other Stories".

~~"I first came across this writer in 1996 when I reviewed her first novel Black Light. She was only twenty-one years old at the time. Even at her tender age, Solomon was able to deconstruct the boundaries between art and life, tragedy and humour, producing a sophisticated challenge to the more conservative writers amongst us.
Solomon produced another novel in 1997. This book, Nothing Lasting, was about a psychopath who created mayhem wherever he went. I read this novel as an allegory of social breakdown and noted that without the redemptive literary skills of Solomon, the book would be almost too painful to bear.
You may wonder why I am bringing these early novels into this review. I am doing this quite deliberately. A novel can survive with just one character. Not so with a collection of short stories. They are sometimes difficult to grasp, given the multiple characters and plots that crowd around calling out, pick me, pick me! I wanted to find out if Solomon could manage this motley queue and in so doing, tease out the dominant themes of this eclectic collection.
Solomon presents each story to us in various ways, some mythological, some scientific, some within the comfort of social realism. Each story presents itself with some form of bodily trauma as the metaphoric centre of the work. Her characters are constantly seeking a meaningful life.
This collection is one to savour, to read and re-read. Solomon writes with passion and is totally dedicated to her art. Sometimes she wins and sometimes she loses, but she is never afraid to let language off the hook to see where it will lead her next."
--Beryl Fletcher, in "Early Response to "The Shingle Bar Sea Monster and Other Stories". Beryl Fletcher is winner of a Commonwealth Writers' Prize (1992) for Best First Book in South East Asia and the Pacific with her novel The Word Burners. Four of her books have been translated into German and Korean.

Purchase and details link: The Shingle Bar Sea Monster and other Stories

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