Open Strings — Gordon Simms
Out 20th October, pre-order now for your early copy
Following Roy’s boyhood in post-war rural Bedfordshire Open Strings immerses us in the countryside with its changing seasons and characters who accompany Roy as he makes the transition from childhood to adolescence. Often naïve, Roy struggles to understand much of the behaviour he witnesses, yet makes discoveries about himself and the human condition.
Moving from ‘Flood’ with its echoes of Bruno Schulz’s Street of Crocodiles and merging of memory, imagination and dream to the onset of school, that results in a vow of silence, and through the friendships, rivalries, hero-worship, first loves and moments of pushing the boundaries of behaviour that come with these early life stages, we arrive at ‘GDAE’ in which violence between strangers leaves Roy fleeing the scene as he has fled from other dilemmas.
A poignant and convincing novella, Open Strings examines the way we make sense of the world with its moments of euphoria, its bewildering protocols, the strange behaviour of others and the small acts of betrayal that mark us deeply. Humane, engaging and authentic, Open Strings is a finely-observed collection and a compelling read.
Praise for Open Strings
Open Strings captures so well the rough edges, sharp corners, loose ends, terrors and daily miracles of childhood; its rivalries and moments of unexpected tenderness. A compelling, first-rate story that invites the reader to become a participant and a collaborator; thereby drawing the reader into a debate on the nature and power of story, of memory and on the nature of “reality” itself.
— Jackie Fellague, poet and environmentalist
I felt I was stepping into a bygone age. Beautiful writing, evocative yet with a poetic economy of style. The quirky characters and the landscape are deliciously encapsulated. So much to dwell on: a wonderful novella.
— Emma Curtis, novelist
A vivid picture of a bygone era, brilliantly brought to life through detailed observation. The reader is effortlessly and intimately involved in the narrative.
— Bernard Lord, poet
At a time when children at play have become ‘warnings’ along service roads, a time of growing isolation from the natural world and eco-anxiety amongst the young, it is necessary and urgent for them to put their screens away and discover how their elders played, learned and dreamed. Open Strings is an irresistible invitation to do just that: read, imagine, and read again.
— Isabelle Llasera, short-story writer
Gordon Simms captures the spirit of a rural, post-war childhood in this enchanting story. Through his evocative descriptions and masterful dialogue we see how one boy’s friendships and rivalries prepare him for the wider world.
— Harriet Springbett, author
It’s rare indeed to find prose where every few sentences delivers up a vivid metaphor or descriptive turn that’s subtly connective to the reader. These vital vignettes of a post-War Bedfordshire childhood are delivered to us through rich recurrences and strange isolations of character. Their interwoven tones and fractured guises offer a near-Cubist set of perspectives that avoid any centralising or forceful moral, opting instead for a gentle observational illumination that allows the chapters’ slant meanings to float insistently into memory.
— Mario Petrucci, poet
Gordon Simms trained as an English and Drama teacher, and lectured at Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama before becoming a Drama Advisor and Head of Performing Arts. He is the author of several plays, including the prize-winning Stop Press. His ten-minute play Zero Contract was performed in 2017 in France where he has organised three bilingual literary festivals. He ran Segora International writing competitions for fifteen years, celebrating winning entries with readings, book launches and workshops. He has judged poetry, playwriting and short story competitions. A prolific poet, he has been successful in over ninety competitions and widely anthologized. His collection Uphill to the Sea won the Biscuit Prize in 2011. His short fiction has been published in The Real Jazz Baby and shortlisted for Fish. He has broadcast with the BBC and read at various venues in England, Scotland, Ireland and France.