Jane Rogers must have lived dozens of lives before she started this one, an existence as a writer so talented I find it hard to comprehend. That is the only way I can make sense of how well she can write twenty stories from different perspectives – they all must be part of her in some sense.
Rogers manages a rare combination: excellent mastery of voice, of character, and of place. She writes no perfect characters, yet you want know each and every one of them. At times you want to be them, because despite their flaws they own themselves so well and feel a little more real than you, sitting there with their stories pressed between your fingers. Hitting Trees With Sticks takes its readers across continents, from Manchester to Bombay, Australia, France, and back.
Each story in the collection packs a punch, but if you’re stuck for time I’d recommend first of all reading ‘The Ghost In The Corner’ or ‘Ivory Bird’.
What I love about Hitting Trees With Sticks is that you can tell the moments shared with us are not the most interesting or important in each of the characters’ lives, and yet Rogers makes you feel that a short phone conversation between sisters, or an overnight stay in a French town, is as important an experience as any – and most definitely worth reading about.
The story for which the collection was named, ‘Hitting Trees With Sticks’ was nominated for the BBC National Short Story Prize in 2009, and her latest novel The Testament of Jessie Lamb was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012.
You can buy the collection straight from the website of Comma Press, the Manchester not-for-profit publishing initiative focused on short fiction.