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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 story was submitted to The LoveReading Very Short Story Award 2019. You can listen to the People's Choice winner on the LoveReading Podcast.
'Anthony Howell’s new prose book, with a title that would have enthralled Rimbaud, incarnates otherness from within an ultra-inventive mind that creates, coolly and passionately at the same time, a coalition of the alienated or, more mildly, differentiated selves which make up this post-modern personality with its urban Jewish and rural Quaker roots. It took an epileptic fit to trigger Howell’s remarkable exploration of psychic chaos which is contained, not so paradoxically, in a super-formalistic structure, a systems network involving repetition as in a baroque poem, that would be a credit to French formalists such as Jacques Roubaud, Raymond Queneau and Alain Robbe-Grillet. Among many themes there is a harsh critique of Israel, but written as much in sorrow as in anger from within the goodly tent. The author intersperses his own text with his fluent version of a novella by Mamdou Adwan, the tragic story of an old Palestinian who has been dispossessed of all he owns. This counterpoint complicates further the music of Howell’s earthly spheres, but such are his skills that we read the book as a straightforward story, a story whose unrevealed codes work on us subliminally so that we are transported, as if listening to Bach.' — Anthony Rudolf
Thirty very different pieces about extraordinary women, keenly observed and astute. They cover the spectrum from triumphant to pathetic, sad to humorous, surprising to surreal. There is the woman who unravels, another who grows wings, one who secretly paints her grass green, one talks to ducks, one slips through a timeless crack and another is put on a shelf. Some will irritate, others make you laugh or cry. Do not consume too many together else you will lose the flavour. I would believe it to be a good bedtime listen, enjoy two or three a night and take the next day pondering and digesting them before the next batch.
A Sunday Telegraph Book of the Year `Winterson's winter tales unfailingly succeed in their endeavor to leave you aglow' - Guardian For years Jeanette Winterson has written a new story at Christmas time and here she brings together twelve of her brilliantly imaginative, funny, and bold tales, along with twelve delicious recipes for the twelve days of Christmas.
Stephen Leeds, also known as 'Legion', has a unique mental condition. He can become an expert on any subject in hours . . . and with every new area of expertise a new 'aspect' of Stephen is created. Is he schizophrenic? Possibly. Does that make him an incredible intelligence agent? Definitely. And this is his final, and perhaps his strangest, adventure. It begins with two unrelated events: the disappearance of Armando, one of Stephen's many aspects, and an unexpected cry for help from Sandra, the woman who, many years before, helped him learn to live with his condition . . . and the combination of the two leads to a sinister high-tech firm specializing in advanced methods of human incarceration. An original, challenging, and utterly absorbing story, this unmissable novella showcases Stephen Leeds at his best: a compelling hero, and a man constantly struggling to understand and control his own divided nature.
The small town of Castle Rock, Maine, has witnessed some strange events and unusual visitors over the years, but there is one story that has never been told...until now. There are three ways up to Castle View from the town of Castle Rock: Route 117, Pleasant Road, and the Suicide Stairs. Every day in the summer of 1974 twelve-year-old Gwendy Peterson takes the stairs, which are held by strong (if time-rusted) iron bolts and zig-zag up the cliffside. One day, while Gwendy catches her breath and listens to the shouts of the kids on the playground and the chink of an aluminium bat hitting a baseball, a stranger calls out to her. On a bench in the shade sits a man in a small, neat black hat. He offers Gwendy a mahogany box with coloured buttons. The buttons will produce gifts, such as chocolate which can make you slimmer. But he warns her that the gifts will be 'small recompense for the responsibility.' Journey back to Castle Rock in this chilling new novella by Stephen King, bestselling author of The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, and Richard Chizmar, award-winning author of A Long December
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.
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.