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Want to read a story with all the depth, questions and quality of a novel, written by highly skilled writers in about 5% of the space? Short stories can be heartbreaking, mysterious and incredibly detailed; for a perfectly formed, bite-sized smorgasbord of stories, browse our Short Story recommendations here.
This seasonal compendium collects together poems, short stories, and prose extracts by some of the greatest poets and writers in the English language. Like Charles Dickens's ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, they are representative of times old and new--from John Donne's Elizabethan hymn over the baby Jesus to Benjamin Zephaniah's Talking Turkeys, from Thomas Tusser counting the cost of a Tudor feast to P. G. Wodehouse's wry story about Christmas on a diet. Enjoy a Christmas Day as described by Samuel Pepys, Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, or Nancy Mitford. Venture out into the snow in the company of Jane Austen, Henry James, and Dickens's Mr. Pickwick. Entertain the children with the seasonal tales of Dylan Thomas, Kenneth Grahame, and Oscar Wilde.
A classic of short fiction, Alan Spence's celebrated debut collection, first published in 1977, brings Glasgow to vibrant life and captures the spirit of the city as it teetered on the brink of change. From childhood Christmases in small tenement flats and games played on scrubland, to Orange Walks on bright Saturday afternoons and Thursday nights in dark, pulsing dancehalls, these interlinked stories vividly evoke the city and its inhabitants - young and old, Catholic and Protestant, hopeful and disillusioned.
Oh my, must-read needs to be stamped all over this book as it is 188 pages of simply wonderful storytelling, with each short chapter building to create a cohesive, biting, beautiful whole. Set in Romania in the 1970’s, Alina and her husband find themselves confronted by the secret service when her brother-in-law defects, can the hidden old folk ways be the answer to their problems? While this is a truly stunning read, it isn’t always comfortable or easy, there were occasions when I really flinched, took in a deep breath and closed my eyes, but each time I was drawn back in as I also smirked, laughed, felt wonder and had moments of real discovery. The first chapter sent my thoughts scuttling and seeking answers, did I believe, did I understand? Sophie van Llewyn is an award-winning flash fiction author, each chapter of ‘Bottled Goods’ is short, could almost exist in its own right, yet remove one and the entire story would fracture. The ending is utterly perfect, and had me sitting in contemplative silence. I want to shout about Bottled Goods from the rooftops, I adored this thought-provoking unique novella and have chosen it as one of my picks of the month.
In this award-winning collection of cycling tales, Wilfried de Jong uncovers the true soul of cycling - why we do it, why we watch it, why we hate it, why we love it - stripped bare. With his distinctly comic and melancholic charm Wilfried ponders life, love and death on his trusted bike, chasing the essence of our existence against the backdrop of major cycling events or while roaming alone in nature. Whether he is describing being ejected from Paris-Roubaix, a terminal incident with a bird while out riding, or explaining why he is standing stark naked on Belgian cobbles with a tyre in his hand, Wilfried unlocks a sport that involves so much pain, punishment, and a high probability of failure, but that will always liberate and inspire us.
Four short novels from the author of THE FIREMAN and HORNS, ranging from creepy horror to powerful explorations of our modern society. One autumnal day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails, splinters of bright crystal that tear apart anyone who isn't safely under cover. 'Rain' explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as clouds of nails spread out across the country and the world. Amidst the chaos, a girl studying law enforcement takes it upon herself to resolve a series of almost trivial mysteries . . . apparently harmless puzzles that turn out to have lethal answers. In 'Loaded' a mall security guard heroically stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun movement. Under the hot glare of the spotlights, though, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it... 'Snapshot, 1988' tells the story of an kid in Silicon Valley who finds himself threatened by The Phoenician, a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid that can steal memories... And in 'Aloft' a young man takes to the skies to experience parachuting for the first time . . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero's island of roiling vapour that seems animated by a mind of its own.
At once lyrical and sparse, intimate and expansive, delicate and sharp, this collection is the final work of a late, great writer who understood and articulated the subtle complexities of the human heart in each of her novels, poems and stories. The themes here will be familiar to Dunmore aficionados – friendship, family, folk at life’s liminal junctures. Take Nina, whose tales portray a young woman teetering into a new phase of life. She’s a naïve and lonely seventeen-year-old living in a drab bedsit, unsure of what to do, but making do and on the brink - one hopes - of finding her place in the world. Indeed, many of these stories explore life’s big transitions, and how individuals live with such precariousness, as in “A Night Out”, a life-affirming tale of two widows’ unforeseen unity beneath the stars. There’s much tenderness too, characters who awaken affection, a personal favourite being glorious Auntie Binnie, an unassuming companion to an old lady who blooms as an artist later in life (“Portrait of Auntie Binbag, with Ribbons”). While Dunmore’s devotees will adore this treasure, I’d also recommend it wholeheartedly as an introduction to her exquisite writing.
A brilliant, bruising depiction of the dark side of 1950s Hollywood, from the author of In Love. At a Hollywood party, a screenwriter rescues an aspiring actress from a drunken suicide attempt. He is married, disillusioned; she is young, seemingly wise to the world and its slights. They slide into a casual relationship together, but as they become ever more entangled, he realises that his actions may have more serious consequences than he could ever have suspected. Hayes' exquisite novella, written in his cool, inimitable style, holds a revealing light to the hollowness of the Hollywood dream and exposes the untruths we tell ourselves, even when we think we have left illusions behind.
Brilliantly constructed speculative crime fiction A classic whodunit Dark psychological suspense Doug Johnstone returns with his most explosive and original thriller yet... Short, sharp, punchy. As a reimagined Edinburgh sits with a volcano on the doorstep, volcanologist Surtsey discovers the very dead body of her lover, and a split-second decision turns her entire world upside down. Doug Johnstone sets the pace from the very beginning, fast moving chapters kept my thoughts whirring. Surtsey is a fascinating character, living her life in the moment, her actions reverberated across the surface of the pages. I could feel her shock, her confusion, yet she didn’t allow me close enough to form a bond, consequently I found myself evaluating, sifting, perhaps even judging. It feels as though a reckoning is thundering towards Surtsey, and I sat waiting, expectantly tense, ready to view the outcome. ‘Fault Lines’ cranks up the volume on original, yet feels intensely raw, earthy, and real, for a short book, it packs a mighty wallop.
A spellbinding collection of short stories from the Man Booker Prize shortlisted author of History of Wolves.
A masterful debut short story collection from the award-winning, critically-acclaimed poet Adam O'Riordan. A man visits his long-distance lover in Los Angeles and forges an unexpected bond with a fellow traveller on the way; a teenager interviews a businessman for his school newspaper and their paths continue to cross, throughout life; the foreman of a desert building project embarks on a journey down the Pacific Coast Highway and into California's underworld when his employer's daughter goes missing; a lonely widower reflects on the past and confronts a disturbing and long suppressed memory; a divorced father tries to reconnect with his son on a hunting trip; an artist finds peace in exile after the disintegration of an affair; and itinerant Brits discuss love and acting in downtown LA.
The complete short stories of Susan Sontag, one of the most brilliant & influential writers of the twentieth century - collected together for the first time Susan Sontag is most often remembered as a brilliant essayist - inquisitive, analytical, fearlessly outspoken. Yet all throughout her life, she also wrote short stories: fictions which wrestled with those ideas and preoccupations she couldn't address in essay form.
Six deliciously romantic short stories, only two of which have been published before but in digital form. They are all of a healthy length with a beginning, middle and end, none leave you in the lurch but one, A Dream Christmas, has supernatural undertones which are unexplained and beautifully handled, I loved it. I think Katie’s favourite is Dogs are for Christmas which stars two bouncey, unruly canine creatures bound to capture anyone’s heart. The collection also features a 16-page extract from her new book A Country Escape coming on 22 February 2018 where a disillusioned London girl goes off to run her aunt’s farm specialising in rare cattle, dairy shorthorns. It sounds delightful. As the publishers stress this is indeed a lovely Christmas gift for Katie’s fans or anyone wanting a happy-ever-after feel-good read. ~ Sarah Broadhurst
There is a real skill in being able to conjure a whole life in just a few pages, to be able to leave a reader with an enduring feeling in just a short time. Here you will find lasting stories about life the universe and everything, from authors you already know as novelists and some that will be knew and welcome friends. We love a good short story, not just because they provide great reading in bite-size chunks - perfect for the trip to work, or a moment when you just want a small piece of brilliance in your life – but also because they are (if they are good) a perfect piece of art, capturing the human condition in a snapshot that stays with the reader for much longer than it took to write. As Graham Greene put it; “a novel can seldom have the sense of perfection which you find in Chekhov’s story, The Lady with the Dog.” From Chekhov to Julian Barnes via a whole host of other perfectionists, we have hand-picked the very best of short story collections for readers of all tastes.