Title: ‘Only the Sure of Foot’ by Ian Madden
Collection/Anthology?: Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology 3 (Bristol Review of Books Ltd.)
Date Read: 05 August 2010
Briefly: Living in the barren and battered wilderness of the Scottish countryside, the baker, Munro is a meticulous man and he can’t abide ‘imperfections’ in the quality of his work. His imperfect creations must be disposed of immediately, and this is a task that has been given to his wife. Her method of disposal is one that her husband would disapprove of greatly, and as such she is forced to leave the house in the early hours of every morning, setting out to a distant shale-cut wall on another part of the island.
Afterthoughts: I really rather enjoyed this story from Edinburgh-based Madden, which finished in second place in this year’s Bristol Short Story Prize. It’s a story which very much reads as a kind of old(ish) Scottish folk tale, and it has that same resonance and tone. What I love most about the story though is how well Madden combines his wonderfully engaging storyline – which is quite sorrowful at times – with some beautifully painted descriptions of landscape. It all makes for a rather pleasant and memorable reading experience.
This story was read as part of a review of the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology, Volume 3. If you want to find out more about this anthology then I invite you to head on over and read my ‘forethoughts’ post, and/or visit the the Bristol Short Story Prize website.