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Short stories: to read or not to read?

May 8, 2019

When it comes to reading, I have always been a novel fan, me. Try as I might to get behind shorter-form storytelling like poetry, plays, and short stories, I've struggled.

 

It may sound counter-intuitive, but there's something about short stories which fails to capture my attention. Their length - or lack thereof - means a lot of scene setting is sacrificed in order to get to the point. I'm a details girl. I need to know a bit of back story, I need to dig a little deeper. All this being said, I had dismissed short stories before I gave them a genuine chance.

 

More recently, I have been giving short stories a proper chance, and found myself a little charmed. When done well, there's something really beautiful about being moved by characters you've only known for a few pages. It's early days yet, but here are a couple of my favourites so far.

 

Mothers

by Chris Power

 

What the dust jacket says: A book peopled by men and women who find themselves at crossroads or dead ends - characters who search without knowing what they seek. From remote and wild Exmoor to ancient Swedish burial sites and hedonistic Mexican weddings, these stories lay bare the emotional and physic damage of life, love, abandonment. 

 

What I say: The individuals and worlds which make up the ten stories in this collection are as different from each other as night from day, yet there is a thread of human fragility which binds them all. A beautiful study on the relationships, memories, and moments which shape our lives, and the way the seemingly smallest of instances can end up staying with us. 

 

 

Nocturnes

Kazuo Ishiguro

 

What the dust jacket says: Passion or necessity—or the often uneasy combination of the two—determines the place of music in each of the five lives of this collection of stories. And, in one way or another, music delivers each of them to a moment of reckoning: sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes just eluding their grasp. An exploration of love, need, and the ineluctable force of the past, Nocturnes reveals these individuals to us with extraordinary precision and subtlety, and with the arresting psychological and emotional detail that has marked all of Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed works of fiction.

 

What I say: Kazuo Ishiguro's novel 'Never Let Me Go' lingered and echoed in my mind long after turning the last page in the way very few books ever have, so I'll admit expectations were high with this collection of five short stories, and it didn't disappoint. The author's visceral writing of the human experience makes for a powerful read, and I genuinely enjoyed the process of reading his unique story telling in five chunks. This writing exemplifies my favourite Shakespeare quote... though the stories be but little, they are fierce. 

 

 

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