New review: Small is beautiful, by Hayley Ellis Jones

“Paint it large!” I remember my high school art teacher encouraging my all-female class, while we toiled away on tiny pictures. “Women’s art is often so small. Don’t they feel confident to take up space? Make it big. Make your mark!”

While I agreed entirely with the sentiment, the truth was I kept my pictures little because I thought it made my problems with perspective, proportion and general lack of artistic skill less obvious.

Anyway, I like it small: pictures, poems and, above all, stories. The size of the works doesn’t make them any less accomplished or moving. Life is short – sometimes we need things we can digest quickly, that we can listen to while walking the dog, that fit in a pocket, or keep us company for a few stops on commute. I wasn’t fooling anyone with my small pictures of misshapen fruit in school, and short stories can’t recover from waffling words. Here are some fantastic short stories that slipped into my heart last year, although many were published some time ago. All demonstrate the pre-eminence of female writers using the form and will resonate with me into the future.

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