Crush, an anthology of love stories, was a project inspired by the Romance Writers of Australia 25th anniversary national conference, ‘Ain’t Love Grand‘ and, in particular, the academic streams hosted by Flinders University. This probably goes some way to explaining the academic nature of most stories in the collection, peppered with some lighter more entertaining ones throughout.
This collection published by local Adelaide company, MidnightSun Publishing, promotes itself an anthology of love stories in all its forms. It promises much and delivers on some of those promises. The editors of the collection, Simone Corletto, Amy T Mathews, Jess M Miller and Lynette Washington are all academics and their selection of stories has a heavy bent towards the literary. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se, except that many of the stories chosen for the anthology are clearly written by literary academics with publication records in student and snobby literary magazines that are only read by other students and literary snobs. That is to say, there was lots of student wank in this publication.
There were, however, some great shorts in Crush and the standouts for this reviewer were: Tinder Tales by Rebecca Stratton, in which the world of online hook-ups is both funny and confronting; A Roughie in the Fourth by Sue Robertson, which tells the sad tale of an elderly gent in a retirement home fighting to admit to his love for another man; and by far the best in the book, Big Red Love by Carla Caruso. Caruso is a multi-published women’s fiction and romance author and it shows. Her story of a woman who loves her big red Monaro more than the dodgy date she finds herself on is utterly charming and hilarious.
At approximately 3,000 words each or less, Crush is great for those who want an entire story in less time than it takes to read a chapter of a novel. There really is something for every type of reader, although you’re more likely to be its overall target reader if you like less commercial writing with unconventional and experimental forms. It’s hard to rate Crush overall because, while some stories were mind-blowingly good, others were as equally mind-blowingly bad or worse, plain boring. But with around thirty shorts in the anthology, you can probably skip the bad ones and move right on to the next good story.
Reviewed by Stacey Carvosso
Rating out of 10: 7
Released by: MidnightSun Publishing
Release Date: September 2017