Zoe’s Stolen Horses

My review of Zoe Lambert‘s The War Tour, her collection of stories about conflict, is now available at 3:AM.

Also worth reading is Lambert’s interview with Tom Vowler, over at the Short Review. It is a very well conducted interview. I don’t think I understood where Zoe was coming from as a writer until I read it.

It’s impossible to completely avoid authorial intrusion; we all write from a certain cultural context and position. But the beauty of writing a collection of stories is conjuring up different voices and perspectives, and in doing so I tried to write outside of myself, as all writers do. I didn’t want this book to be a rant or a vehicle for me to declare, ‘war is wrong!’ I like what Chekhov says in one of his letters:

‘You accuse me of objectivity, calling it indifference to good and evil, lack of ideals and ideas, and so on. You would have me, when I describe horse-thieves, say: ‘Stealing horses is evil.’ But that has been known for ages without me saying so. Let the jury judge them; it’s my job simply to show what sort of people they are.’

Chekhov goes on to explain that it is a matter of technique; in a short story you don’t have the space to explain the evils of horse stealing or indeed, war. On the other hand, the writing process wasn’t always about separating my emotions from my characters’ feelings. It was the opposite. On an emotional level to attempt to explore the experiences of both victims and perpetrators I had to draw upon my own feelings of hurt, fear, anger, and regret… We can never really walk in someone else’s shoes, but we write and read in a hope of doing so, or at least, to walk beside someone else, and see things from their perspective for a short while.

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