This is a blog about By All Means (Nine Arches Press), a short story collection by Tim Love. It's ISBN 978-0-9570984-9-7 and is on sale from Inpress

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Method of Loci

My favourite piece, with many quotable phrases. I can almost believe the section in italics. The language theme is sustained throughout the piece. If you want to know about orange, sunflowers, train gauges or even multidimensional grammars, this is the story for you - an oasis of humour in a collection that's not exactly a laugh a minute. "just use your imagination" the narrator's told. This narrator addresses his readers more directly than the others do.

The collection might well have been called "Method of Loci" because so many of the stories involve people going to places in the way that others might eat madelaines.

I've visited Morocco, Interrailing. The ticket collector comes from there, nothing else. Once back in Spain I got mugged strolling along the shore at night. Next day I found the possessions of mine that they'd discarded, including this picture of a leather treatment workshop.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Doors and Windows

In a film you never see "a man in a kitchen", there's always detail, unavoidably so. In prose each scene's a slow reveal, details sequentially and selectively described as if a blind person were being led from one item to the next, each object specially chosen. But what if a described item or event lacks symbolic resonance, if it doesn't further the plot? Why is it there? Maybe it's mentioned only because it was there, because that's what really happened - an incidental detail with a ring of truth.

This "reality effect" is used extensively in this piece. I was pleased when I finished writing it because it was long (I'd been struggling to write pieces longer than 1000 words) and packed with non-autobiographical detail (though I recognise snippets from Bristol, Portsmouth, Criccieth, Cambridge, London, Liverpool, etc, and I learnt to drive in a Morris Oxford estate). Again, a protagonist looks for a place hoping to recover a time - if it worked before it might happen again. When a new opportunity opens up for him at the end, his reaction is to go further away, further back.

Doors and windows are an insistent leit-motif throughout the piece - of residences, but also those of out-houses, shops and lifts. Doors let us through. Frustratingly, windows both block us physically and let us see what would otherwise be hidden. One of the new windows turns out to be a TV screen. When the character says "A father's a son's window. A son's a father's door" it's supposed to sound like pearls of wisdom whose pretentiousness had irritated others in the past. Maybe it wrecks this new relationship before it's even started. The final few sentences pile on the symbolism.

I wondered whether to make the initial flashback less sudden, provide a rationale. In the end I just got on with it. I wondered whether to make more of the contrast between the two sons of gay fathers growing up in different eras.

Sunday, 16 December 2012


The story (which always seems shorter than I remember it) is broken into sections introduced by definitions. These make for a more entertaining read, and their ambiguity ties in with the story's theme - labels, definitions and identity. The main character seems comforted by habits. He's found a haven from the hurly-burly of society, a microcosm where people wear labels, and gender definition is a matter of which changing room you use. But you still have to choose. Dave feels accepted and respected. But all is not what it seems. Even here Dave's not safe. At the end Dave has to decide how to react to institutional compromise. Instead of taking the bribe, Dave asserts his identity.

I have a version of this where the main character's gender is switched. There are pros and cons. I had some left-over definitions that I'd still like to use. I think the final "unfail" definition best illustrates how I wanted to use them. There's a typo - The "kiple" section should begin "I use Kipling as a litmus test".

Friday, 7 December 2012


There used to be a McIlroys department store in North End, Portsmouth. It's gone now - or rather, it's become some smaller shops and flats. The dead friend in this story had a lead role in "Evolution" (short fiction 1, 2007). Glenn Lambert didn't commit suicide, and I've never visited his grave in Milton, though I mean to. The rest is fabrication, though I do tend to have trouble with reunions, camera batteries, and automatic doors. The cemetery's based on one in Cambridge, off Mill Road. My guess is that the main character is similar to the one in "Dreams", as much stuck in the past as he is in the present, left behind.