Probably one of my greatest discoveries in Booksale is the collection of short stories written by Frank Collymore. Who is this author? Well that was my question also as I stared at a 10php book entitled The Man Who Loved Attending Funerals And Other Stories by Frank Collymore and edited by Harold Barratt and Reinhard Sander. I had no clue who the author was but I bought the book nonetheless because of the catchy title.
And boy, was I surprised that the book contained a lot of very interesting stories. In fact, there were a lot of stories, whose titles were not so catchy but whose plots were better than the story whose title became the title of the book.
Now before I dwell on describing snippets of the stories contained in the book, let me answer the question, who is Frank Collymore? He was a West Indian literary author famous during the 40’s and 50’s (based on the back-side cover of the book). He wasn’t really popular for his short stories but was rather well-known for his magazine Bim and his poems. His short stories were actually compiled only after his death. (Amazing, right? People do get more famous once they die.) In any case, the book I bought was the first ever attempt to publish his short stories. In a nutshell, he is not a famous author in the likes of Stephenie Meyer, JK Rowling or Stephen King but he is a master of his own art, as his short stories clearly show.
Most of the stories in the book were about minds going astray – in short, insanity. There were stories about schizophrenics, MPDs and some purely queer individuals like the man who loved attending funerals. But then what set it apart from other works about mentally challenged individuals is the rawness of the emotions portrayed in each story by each character. The descriptions are superb and the narration is gripping. The flow of the story is also natural or should I say smooth sailing. There is no point of boredom and you’ll never lose interest in the plot at all.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule. There are stories which would be better off not read right away or rather would appear dragging if one is not familiar with the author’s style. There are, for me, 2 types of stories that Collymore wrote – the ones pertaining to the disorders of the mind and the ones pertaining to the natural mechanisms of the mind. What do I mean by that? Go read the book. 😉
The dragging stories for me are the ones where he just explored how the normal mind works. The really exciting stories are the ones wherein he showcases how an abnormal mind works. Hmm.. Doesn’t that reveal something about the reader?
Some of my most loved stories are Shadows, which tells the tale of how solitude can eventually lead t insanity and RSVP to Mrs. Bush Hall which is a satiric presentation of the social classes rampant in the Caribbean.
Much as I want to provide information about what these stories are all about, I’m afraid that I won’t be able to do so without compromising their complete plots. Of course, I don’t want to spoil anything for the reader. Much as I also want to simply type out the books, convert them to PDF and make them accessible, I do not want to infringe any copyright laws also.
I really don’t know how the book could be bought or if there is an e-book somewhere on the net. I guess for rare books like these, Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble is the solution. But if ever you find yourself in Booksale, and you’ve got some time and patience to spare, you can go ahead and try scavenging for this book and see what you can find. After all, it is worth every penny you pay for it.
And I guess if you want one particular story from the list below, maybe you can send me a message and I’ll see what I can do. Of course, we’ll all hush it up. Kidding!
The shot stories of Frank Collymore:
- Shadows ß highly recommended
- The Snag
- Miss Edison ßrecommended
- Some People are Meant to Live Alone ßrecommended
- Second Attempt
- There’s Always the Angels ß recommended
- Mr. Baker Forgets Himself
- Mark Learns Another Lesson
- The Story of the Tragic Circumstances surrounding the Death of Angela Westmore
- The Man Who Loved Attending Funerals ß highly recommended
- Rewards and Chrysanthemums
- RSVP to Mrs. Bush-Hall ß highly recommended
- The Diaries
- To Meet Her Mother ß highly recommended
- A Day at the Races
Most of these stories are actually filled with symbolisms and the like that are simply perfect for English homework essays. Sometimes I wish that my English teachers had known of such stories because they would have made good discussion materials.