top of page

Forewords by

Tony Kirwood, writer and teacher

As I faced them in the classroom at Richmond and Hillcroft Adult Community College I soon could see that this lot of learners in the writing course were a little bit special. It wasn’t just their attentive looks or lively questions nor even the fact that every one of them came back week after week. It was that all of them, from the start, were producing work. Not just exercises, or jottings, or concepts in their head, but real stories. As the course progressed I listened as ideas were given bones and flesh, began to totter to a standing position and then walk – or even run. At the end of term I said goodbye to nine bona fide writers, all with a unique voice and a host of stories to tell.

So I was delighted but not utterly surprised when they texted me nine months later to ask if I would edit this book. I was expecting what teachers like to call “good work”, but these stories are the real thing. They are moving, funny, absorbing, poignant and thought-provoking.

Deborah Reeves wonderfully captures the voice of a young girl undergoing a disturbing rite of passage in “Copley Lane”. The routine of the bus driver in Flavie Salaun’s “Counting on Rose” can’t protect him from memories of a searing tragedy. In Frank Offer’s “The River Goes On” a film director is changed by a near death experience. Celia Gray’s “Judith’s Journey” will give heart to all middle-aged women who feel trapped by life. If you enjoyed the character of Inspector Clouseau you will love the pompous policeman in Karen Ali’s “Via Con Me”. Trevor Aston’s “Reasons To Be Live” tells of a grieving man – and a talking dog. Or is it? Sinem Erenturk’s moving theme in “The Chorister of Istanbul” is how singing crosses cultural borders. Back to comedy with Sally Teel’s “The Number 26 Bus” and a monster of a town gossip. And in Jo Abare’s “What Happens In Boston” a Christmas present triggers a mother’s

fears about a past indiscretion. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.

Foreword for Table 52 - A Collection of Short Stories

Nine writers. Fifteen stories. Nine voices. No – more: every good story contains not just the voice of the writer but those of their characters. In these pages there are dozens, each of them calling out for your attention. They sound from across the globe and across time: Aegean, Thailand, London, 1930s Iraq, 1960s America. This is not surprising. The Table 52 Writers, although first meeting in my writing class at Richmond Adult Community College, have roots in Turkey, Paris and across the UK. Each of their tales is a snapshot of what it is like to live in Human City.
This is the second Table 52 anthology. Their first showcased a bunch of vivid, well-crafted stories. In this they have dug deeper into their subject matter and characters and found some very rich seams. The tone is as varied as the settings. Comedy is well represented: Trevor Aston’s “Heatwave” is a witty alternative history set in the hardboiled world of the American music business, Sarah Savage’s “Bilk” is a caustic satire on Thai brides, Joe de Souza writes Pythonesque flights of fancy and Flavie Salaun’s “A Cat in the Dark” is a delicious modern comedy of manners. Deborah Reeves gives us three acute glimpses of modern unease. Frank Offer’s “The Beach” is a haunting tale of middle-aged longing while Karen Ali’s “Waiting for the King” captures the fervour of boyhood hopes. An encounter in a hospital support group leads to a touching friendship in Celia Grey’s “The Phone Call”. The protagonist in Sinem Erenturk’s atmospheric “Silence of Olive Trees” finds that even in an idyllic coastal resort it’s hard to dissipate the memories of an oppressive marriage.
This collection is a small masterpiece of collaboration. Each story belongs to its writer – have no fear of that – but it grew out of weekly meetings held by the group in which they share dreams, ideas, and critiques, as well as the large and the tiny editorial choices. Writing is a hard and lonely road with as many potholes as heights. More writers should co-operate like this. 
Read this book at one sitting or savour each story over time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Foreword for Table52 - A Second Collection of Short Stories

bottom of page