On May 16, independent publishing house 9VT\5 released an anthology of short stories titled Between There and Now, Too. With 24 stories and nine different authors making up the collection, Between There and Now, Too is 188 pages of entertainment, philosophical ponderings, and questionable creativity. Though at times unsettling, the compilation’s musings are poetic and thought provoking. The different voices and styles of each author shine through in their respective stories, providing something refreshing and surprising with the turn of every page.
Between There and Now, Too kicks off with Rhododendron by Beatrice Helman, a story of teenage coming of age and the complexities of girlhood. Exploring the intricacies of a girl’s first relationship, the story beautifully weaves together heartache with the melancholy of growing up. Featured shortly after Helman is Radke, whose stories are some of the shortest, but also some of my favorites. All three of Radke’s compositions appear to be simple stories, but quickly uncover deeper undertones. Each story details a different individual and/or experience of his life with vivid imagery of three completely different atmospheres: jail, a nightclub, and the great outdoors. The absurdity and randomness of these ponderings are what makes Radke’s oeuvre one of the most stand-out pieces, topped only by Jack George and Isabella Greenwood.
Before I further praise the magnificent musings of George, I want to acknowledge Between There and Now, Too’s last two contributors: Jose Carpio and Marlon Webster Paine. Carpio’s work is by far the most creative of the collection; he wrote his story Curriculum Vitae in the format of a cheeky resume, using a unique medium to deliver a compelling story of a struggling adult’s journey to find work. Different from the works’ of other authors, Paine’s four stories all speak on the same topic: a woman’s relationship with her father. Each story explores a different perception the narrator has of her father and his suicide, including his experience playing in a band and his presence in her life prior to his death.
Now, for the top two. George precedes Greenwood with two stories. George’s first work follows the connection between mother and daughter after separation, using inconsistent narration and formatting to convey the disconnect between the pair during adolescence and young adulthood. Though slightly disturbing and difficult to follow, the story’s poeticism and complexity make up for its confusion. George further proves his talent with his second tale, Refrain or A Bear Named Spruce. Narrated by a stuffed bear named Spruce, this piece follows the coming of age of a teenage girl struggling with her sexuality and self harm. The innocent and often clueless perspective of Spruce is refreshing, and adds a melancholic tang to a tragic yet moving story of coming out.
Greenwood’s first story speaks to a question we’ve all had or have: what it would be like to live on your ceiling. Slightly whimsical and quirky, this short piece is beautiful and comforting. Greenwood’s following stories sport more terrestrial themes, with the first being titled Oilseed Rape. A beautiful piece about sexual assault and the power of words, the tragedy and honesty of Greenwood’s composition brought me to tears. A clear standout of Between There and Now, Too, Oilseed Rape is a piece I wish everyone would read and examine.
Though it often seems like short stories lack depth, or are a cop out for reading or analyzing a real book, they’re actually just as important and interesting to read as a novel. So, the next time you’re looking for a slightly quicker and thought provoking piece of literature, buy yourself a copy of Between There and Now, Too (or ask to borrow mine).