Self publishing is a risky business. But if you’ve got a story in your heart, it’s an obvious way to get it out there. Paul Davies has used internet book publisher Lulu, which seems a sensible choice: it leaves consumers with a choice of digital or printed versions, and cuts down on any inventory issues.
It’s allowed Davies to publish a charming anthology of his short stories. In the first we see a grandfather and amateur astronomer tracking the progress of a potentially planet-shattering asteroid as it hurtles towards Earth. While he watches the skies his doting granddaughter grows into a woman, leaving you wondering whether he’s used his time to its fullest.
Another examines the cause and effect of a boy falling off his bike, starting with a freeze frame of the accident about to happen. We get an introduction to the characters, then flashbacks to the roles they played in his downfall.
A third follows a group of children into a dangerous building site to play a heart-stopping game of hide and seek; while another sees the interaction between a soldier and a civilian during the Falklands War. The last story in the book is a beautifully tragic but witty love story, set around the turn of the 17th century and inspired by John Donne.
The stories are exquisitely paced, and written with charm and wit. The illustrations are simple but consistent, their style shifting subtly with each story. This binds with the plot and the dialogue to create a convincing, accomplished whole.
Perhaps our only criticism lies in the anthology format. Although the stories are all very different, Davies clearly has some themes he likes exploring, from lost childhood to bitter-sweet endings. While this gives the anthology some unity, you can’t help but wish that Davies would expand on these themes in a single, longer form story. These tales are far from shallow, but their limited length leaves you longing for more depth to sink your teeth into.
Hopefully we’ll see this in the future. As it stands, however, Because I Am is a lovely introduction to Davies’s work that’s will inevitably charm the socks off you, and comes heartily recommended if you’re in the mood for taking a punt on something a bit different.
Preview and buy Because I Am on Lulu.com – select version below: