BOOK REVIEW: Business As Usual by Gaynor Jones

Gaynor Jones has been making waves in the flash fiction realm for a while now and is a remarkable talent in that field, she has been published in a whole host of fabulous magazines which specialise in the flash fiction genre and last year was also voted the Northern Writer of the Year. So when I heard that she was self publishing a collection of her works, it was a no-brainer. It was going to be purchased!

Business As Usual compiles twenty six flash fiction pieces which also features seven previously unpublished flash fiction stories – all of which are told in her unabashed and darkly entertaining style.

‘Harold was considered to be a pleasant man. But even the right amount of power, in the right hands, for the wrong amount of time can lead to disaster.’

Business As Usual is a fire cracker of a book, like holding a fire cracker in your hand, lighting the fuse and then watching in morbid curiosity as the fuse fizzles, drawing nearer to the explosive, but you can’t look away, Jones’ style is hypnotic and arrestingly beautiful, you keep watching (reading) until the fuse stops fizzing, the books comes to its conclusion and your hand is no more than a bloody stump. A stump you can’t stop looking at, marvelling in its beautifully macabre destruction and the intrinsic beauty held deep within the firecracker you were just holding. Business As Usual will maim you, trust me you will never be the same again.

‘Mother always told us to refer to that place as the thing between your legs. We were never to say vagina in front of Father, or our one lone brother. Mother kept her legs crossed – always at the ankle, never at the knee. But there were six of us, plus the dead baby, so we knew she had opened them up plenty.’

Jones has a wonderful skill at flash fiction, I would go as far to say a mastery of the genre, she is like the queen of flash, presiding over and orchestrating the rise of this unique and quite brilliant art form, setting an example of how it should be done. The collection boasts some micro flash too and these are as remarkable as the longer pieces of fiction that are in the collection – each one constructed and delivered in a way that takes your breath away, which in seventy four words (Buds for example) – is something that is stunningly delicious.

If you are reading this and are not sure exactly what flash fiction is, let me put it this way for you. A novel is a love story, a short story is an affair and well flash fiction is sex. Done right it can be beautiful, done wrong it can be something best forgotten. It’s about getting your reader straight into the action, no ambling along, no sweet nothings, it’s about getting in and out and leaving a pleasing and unforgettable encounter that lingers in the readers mind. A particular key to this, is having a first line that pulls you straight in (seduces you) – and Jones displays a remarkable skill for the first line!

‘When I was eleven years old I killed my sister. Of course, she’s fine now.’

There are so many stories within the collection that jump out (The Library Man, Living With It, To My Three Year Old, Naked in the Bath, The Things Between Your Legs, The Last Sunny Day In November), there isn’t one that I thought didn’t belong in the collection. Business As Usual is a smorgasbord of intrinsically crafted and deftly executed flash fiction – which needs to be read to fully grasp its enrapturing brilliance and the sheer mastery of the genre Jones has. For anyone plying their craft or wanting to dip their feet into the flash fiction genre, Business As Usual needs to be on your reading list – but hurry as I believe it is a limited run.

Business As Usual is an exceptional flash fiction collection from a masterful, unique and captivating voice – miss it at your peril.

Business As Usual is available here – but it’s a limited run so act quickly!

Gaynor Jones

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I am a freelance writer based in the North West.

I specialise in short fiction and am currently working on my debut short story collection. In 2018 I won the Mairtín Crawford Short Story Award and I was named ‘Northern Writer of The Year’ by Northern Soul. I was also nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best Small Fictions and Best of The Net.

I am a regular performer at spoken word nights in Manchester and a champion of the short fiction scene in the North West.

I have been a reader for lit mag Ellipsis Zine and a first reader for the TSS and Brighton Prize short story competitions. I am a judge for the London Independent Short Story Prize (LISP).

I am a social media associate for The Word Factory.

Reviewed by Ross Jeffery

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