Janice Galloway is the kind of author who grabs you by the throat and makes you read her short stories. Like the Ancient Mariner she has no intention of letting you go until you have read them all, and you leave wiser than you were.
Janice Galloway is a fierce proponent of the value of the short story, and in Freight Books she has found a publisher willing to take the risk. The problem is that publishers, bookshops and libraries do not know how to promote short stories. How do you market them? Where do you put them on the shelves? Do you place them with the novels, even though they are not novels? Or do you give them a separate section called short stories? I have always thought that the clue is in the shelf heading “Fiction” but that means that people can only find short story collections if they know who they are looking for, which tends to be the dead (Guy De Maupassant, Roald Dahl, Anton Chekhov etc) not the living (Janice Galloway and Ewan Morrison, to name but two).
You should seek out Janice Galloway. She is a very special writer. These stories of hers are very much set now and in the west of Scotland. This very precision gives the tales a fundamental humanity, a universality of experience that leaves you reeling with a shock of recognition. They are stories to delight in, if delight is the right word. From the moment that Monica and Calum walk along the beach and find the jellyfish, you will be entranced. You will want to read each story. You will want to think about the connections between them, not of characters and storylines, but of thoughts and ideas. Janice Galloway is that kind of author. She makes you see the connections and think about them.
It is difficult to say which, of this collection, is my favourite short story. That is because they are all special, they all have their own qualities, and they are all so easy to read. Janice Galloway writes with an ease and eloquence that takes you effortlessly through each story, and makes you want to read the next one to see if it is just as good. And it is no surprise to discover that it is.
Janice Galloway is one of the best modern writers. Give yourselves a treat, and read this collection of short stories. Read Jellyfish. You will not regret it.