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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 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.
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
December 2017 Book of the Month An entertaining and impressive collection of 28 new short stories by members of the Crime Writer’s Association. There are some absolutely cracking authors on display here, from well established award winners, through to the ultra new and talented. Each author delves into the theme of travel and intriguing destinations. The book has been edited by Martin Edwards, award winning author and current chair of the CWA. The variety of stories delivered chills-a-plenty, were clever, provocative and ultimately extremely satisfying. This is a perfect read for crime lovers, allowing you to dip in and out, or sit and gorge yourself in one heady read. ‘Mystery Tour, A Crime Writer’s Association anthology’ is stimulating selection of must read short stories - highly recommended. - Liz Robinson
The ghost of a poor Afghan returns to haunt the doctor who once amputated his hand. A mysterious and malignant force inhabits a room in an ancestral home and attacks all who sleep in it. A man who desecrates an Indian temple is transformed into a ravening beast. A castle in the Tyrol is the setting for an aristocratic murderer’s apparent resurrection. Nick Rennison, editor of The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes and The Rivals of Dracula, has chosen fifteen tales from that era to raise the hair and chill the spines of modern readers. What a fantastically fascinating anthology, and perfectly framed by Nick Rennison’s insightful introduction. For the uninitiated, the eponymous ‘Supernatural Sherlock’ refers to the proliferation of occult detective stories that burst forth between 1890 and 1930. Among the authors of this wildly inventive, flamboyantly colourful genre were the likes of Kipling and Conan Doyle himself, along with prominent occult magician Dion Fortune, and stories by each of these are featured here, along with an excellent tale by HP Lovecraft, and other lesser known writers. These supernaturally-charged treats will amuse, astound and send shivers of unadulterated terror down readers’ spines as the intrepid detective protagonists venture where no normal detective would dare tread: into the depths of the dark unknown, investigating everything from ancestral homes occupied by evil forces, to haunted surgeons, risking their very sanity as they pursue a myriad of decidedly elusive otherworldly truths. Aficionados of detective fiction, this is a veritably original trove to explore. Joanne Owen BUY DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER
I love short stories, they have the power to give us a fleeting, yet memorable glimpse into other lives. Lives of strong, beautiful characters as they face the challenges that life throws at them, each in search of a little piece of happiness. This collection from Jojo Moyes manages to do that perfectly. They are light and yet there is an underlying significance about them that resonates, that we can relate to. The characters are likeable but not without their flaws and in this Moyes expertly gives them a realistic, human touch. As each of us can be, they are vulnerable, feel pain, sorrow, disappointment, love, happiness and have their own difficulties to overcome. This was a real treat to read. The stories were of variable length yet enough for me to learn a little from each shared experience. I locked myself away in the bathroom and before I knew it the bath water was cold and I resembled a prune, so absorbed was I in these wonderful stories. Another delightful treat from Jojo Moyes. Find yourself a quiet spot and enjoy. ~ Shelley Fallows
A gentle Eastern European immigrant arrives in New York City after his family and his life have been torn apart by his country's civil war. A man who loves to bowl rolls a perfect game - and then another and then another and then many more in a row until he winds up ESPN's newest celebrity, and he must decide if the combination of perfection and celebrity has ruined the thing he loves. An eccentric billionaire and his faithful executive assistant venture into America looking for acquisitions and discover a down and out motel, romance and a bit of real life. These are just some of the tales Tom Hanks tells in this first collection of his short stories. They are surprising, intelligent, heart-warming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have.
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.