Review: Wishful Thinking by Derek Corbett

If only… Characters get themselves into sticky situations and the reader would normally expect a suitably uncomfortable ending – but not here. A suicidal seaman finds a book by his lost love and… (The Bench). A wheelchair-bound young woman, terrified to leave her own flat, plucks up courage to negotiate lifts and pavements to answer unusual torch signals in the block opposite and… (Windows). A bag lady is given a carrier bag of money by a thief and told to hold on to it or face violent retribution. The thief is immediately arrested and sent to jail and… (The Bag Lady’s Revenge).

These are lovely old fashioned stories, in which people address one another as Mr, Mrs and Miss. Many of the stories involve violent, drunken husbands… but the narratives do not follow a predictable path. Most of the characters are working-class and poor… initially, but not necessarily at the end.

The Wishful Thinking theme – happy endings in unlikely circumstances – is dominant throughout every one of the sixteen longer short stories in this book, published by Bridge House Publishing in 2021. The writer explains in his foreword that… ‘justice is important, as is love and hope… The endings however are not always legal but rely on an element of Wishful Thinking.’ Is this escapism? In a way, but not entirely, more a signpost to a gentler world.

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