Peter Ruffell’s short foreword tells the reader that these 17 little stories, and the poem which completes the book, started life during writing sessions at Off The Cuff, a writing workshop in Weymouth. The length of these stories reflects that: they’re a little longer (and, thus, meatier) than flash fiction, but short enough to read one while you’re enjoying (say) a mid-morning cup of tea.
Ruffell’s punning alternative title for this collection – ‘Read My Shorts’ – gives a good idea of the sort of work he has collected into this little book. With some notable exceptions, the stories are mainly humourous – even the murders. Ruffell likes to pile misfortune upon mishap until the whole edifice explodes (often with a good twist) under the weight of its own absurdity. In this vein I particularly enjoyed ‘A Short History Lesson’. As a foil for the humour there are several stories in which heart strings are tugged, eg ‘Old Peggy’, ‘Love Story’ and ‘Littlemoor Girl’.
Let us hope for a second volume, now that Ruffell has dipped his toes in the publishing waters.