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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.
In true Ronseal fashion this book really ‘does what it says' on the cover. In it you’ll find the best short stories published by British writers, whether based in the UK or elsewhere and you won’t be disappointed.Perfect for those times when you don’t have the time or inclination for a full novel but rather like a ‘espresso’ you need a literary pick me up.
How do you make conversation with a sperm donor? How do you say someone's novel is drivel? Would you give a screaming baby brandy? In what words would you tell your girlfriend to pluck a hair on her chin? Touchy Subjects is about things that make people wince: taboos, controversies, secrets and lies. Some of the events that characters crash into are grand, tragic ones: miscarriage, overdose, missing persons, a mother who deserts her children. Other topics, like religion and money, are not inherently taboo, but they can cause acute discomfort because people disagree so vehemently. Many of these stories are about the spectrum of constrained, convoluted feeling that runs from awkwardness through embarrassment to shame.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was America’s foremost feminist thinker of the early twentieth century. Her most famous work, The Yellow Wallpaper, was first published in 1892 and still resonates with a powerful representation of mental health and issues around women’s creativity and self-expression. Its narrator is a middle-class woman married to a physician. Suffering from post-natal depression, her husband “does not believe that I am sick!” beyond having a “slightly hysterical tendency”. And so he and her brother (also a doctor) have decreed that she simply needs to take air and exercise and not work (i.e. write) until she is well again. Never mind that she believes that “congenial work with excitement and change, would do me good”. Her agency removed, she starts to see a woman in the wallpaper of her room. She sees the woman creeping and crawling, “all the time trying to climb through” - an act of escape the narrator follows, to her husband’s horror. With tremendous power, prescience and stark lyricism, this offers a cutting critique of the ways in which women are infantilised, and hampered by male institutions. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" is a memorable and terrifying masterpiece, fueled by a tension that creeps up on you slowly without any clear indication of why. This is just a townful of people, after all, choosing their numbers for the annual lottery. What's there to be scared of?
Following the widely acclaimed and bestselling The Summer Book, here is A Winter Book collection of some of Tove Jansson's best loved and most famous stories. Drawn from youth and older age, and spanning most of the twentieth century, this newly translated selection provides a thrilling showcase of the great Finnish writer's prose, scattered with insights and home truths. It has been selected and is introduced by Ali Smith. A Winter Book features 13 stories from Tove Jansson's first book for adults,The Sculptor's Daughter (1968) plus 7 of her most cherished later stories (from 1971 to 1996), translated into English and published here for the first time.
Best known for her seminal feminist classic, The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir was also an exquisitely sharp writer of fiction, and The Woman Destroyed shows her story-writing talents at their sharpest. First published in 1967, it features three short novellas that each show a woman trapped by her situation, each laced with affecting details of daily life. ‘The Age of Discretion’ sees a successful academic struggling to come to terms with aging as her latest work is rejected. There’s such passion, such desperation, such edgy hope. The second story, ‘The Monologue’, is a woman’s impassioned New Year’s Eve outburst in the aftermath of her son and husband leaving, while ‘The Woman Destroyed’ sees Monique struggling to rebuild her life and identity after her husband confesses to an affair with a younger woman. Though frozen by fear, “The door to the future will open. Slowly. Unrelentingly. I am on the threshold.” Piercingly brilliant. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
A 2004 PEN/Malamud Award winner, this collection celebrates the work of American artist Richard Bausch -- a writer the New York Times calls "a master of the short story." By turns tender, raw, heartbreaking, and riotously funny, the many voices of this definitive forty-two-story collection (seven of which appear here for the first time) defy expectation, attest to Bausch's remarkable range and versatility, and affirm his place alongside such acclaimed story writers as John Cheever, Flannery O'Connor, Raymond Carver, and Grace Paley.
In these early Hemingway stories, which are partly autobiographical, men and women of passion live, fight, love and die in scenes of dramatic intensity. They range from haunting tragedy on the snow-capped peak of Kilimanjaro, to brutal America with its deceptive calm, and war-ravaged Europe.
An elderly artist and her six-year-old grand-daughter while away a summer together on a tiny island in the gulf of Finland. As the two learn to adjust to each other's fears, whims and yearnings, a fierce yet understated love emerges - one that encompasses not only the summer inhabitants but the very island itself. Written in a clear, unsentimental style, full of brusque humour, and wisdom, The Summer Book is a profoundly life-affirming story.Tove Janssoncaptured much of her own life and spirit in the book, which was her favourite of her adult novels. This new edition, with a Foreword by Esther Freud, sees the return of a European literary gem - fresh, authentic and deeply humane.
A collection of 12 stories, with settings ranging from northern California to the hills of eastern Kentucky and the Caribbean island of St Lucia, that explore the twin themes of family ties and the life choices one must ultimately make alone.
his edition of 32 works combines a number of the English poet's best-known sonnets, ballads, and shorter works, along with her long masterpiece "Goblin Market." Others in this choice collection include "The Convent Threshold," "Up-hill," "Cousin Kate," "Winter: My Secret," "Maude Clare," "No, Thank You, John," and "After Death."
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.