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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.
As she walks out of her marriage, a woman remembers the day her husband rescued a boy from drowning. A blind man on his wedding day celebrates the pursuit of love. And a young man leaves prison with only one desire - to see his son again. Kit de Waal's characters light up the page in vivid stories of thwarted desire, love and loss. With power and precision, humanity and insight, Supporting Cast captures the extraordinary moments in our ordinary lives, and the darkness and the joy of the everyday.
This sequel to John Uttley’s family drama Where’s Sailor Jack? sees Bob, now past his “three score and ten”, dealing with era-defining external changes (Brexit, changes in the Labour Party, Donald Trump’s presidency) alongside day-to-day life, with his new love Wendy also given her own narrative. Having survived a divorce and a heart attack, and found himself new partner, Bob has also bought himself a grave plot “near enough to the gate for me to look for an escape if I’m sent to the wrong place,” he remarks with typically wry humour. Lively new characters are also introduced in this sequel, courtesy of teacher Lucy Fishwick, reputedly “a man-eater of all ages and sizes”, and her daughter Maddie, who’s often the object of male characters’ lascivious gazes. Reflective, nostalgic, and suffused in the author’s roots, No Precedent will appeal to those interested in personal takes on present-day political shifts. Indeed, it often reads as if lines between characters’ views and those of the author have been blurred. Tony Blair, Ed Miliband, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Teresa May, Jacob Rees-Mogg, John Bercow and Keir Starmer - and others - are discussed, and we’re also offered a reason for the collapse of Labour’s red wall in the 2019 general election: “I suppose they took the view that if you can’t beat the bastards then you might as well join them, if only for a while.” With loss, immortality (and the fates of Bolton and Blackpool football clubs) covered alongside politics, the overall reading experience is akin to overhearing a wry-minded, well-meaning stranger, then getting to know them over the course of an evening.
Woman is a 50-page sledgehammer collection of short stories that highlight the struggles, rituals and abuse endured by cis-women across cultures. This is not an easy read and I have to say I had difficulty getting through it, because of the topics covered. It is very well-written and each short story is concise, striking at the heart of the sometimes harrowing topic. It made me wince more than a couple of times as I read. There are a number of events described in quite explicit detail and this book will not be for everyone. Woman is described as a collection of stories that focus on the strength of women, I would agree with this but would include “in the face of intense pain and suffering”. This book powerfully highlights the struggles, pain, injustices faced by women and girls worldwide, but at the end of each story in this collection, the women endure, survive and show hope for the future. I think the final message of hope helped to alleviate how intense the darker moments are. I liked that additional information and facts at the end of the book, and I think that this helps to highlight the importance of this book. I think that is how I would describe this book, it’s important. Woman highlights struggles and events that can’t be shied away from just because they make us uncomfortable.
Winner of the 2014 Guardian First Book Award. Winner of the 2014 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. This magnificent collection takes us to Glanbeigh, a small town in rural Ireland - a town in which the youth have the run of the place. Colin Barrett's debut does not take us to Glanbeigh alone; there are other towns, and older characters. But each story is defined by a youth lived in a crucible of menace and desire - and each crackles with the uniform energy and force that distinguish this terrific collection.
Winner of the 2014 Guardian First Book Award. Boy racers speed down the back lanes; couples haunt the midnight woods; young skins huddle in the cold once. The Peacock has closed its doors. Here the young live hard and wear the scars. It matters whose sister you were seen with. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, it matters a very great deal.
Fifteen short stories, his first collection since 1997 although only five are new. The other ten have been either broadcast and then printed or published in magazines. He is a very fine writer teasing out the idiosyncrasies of his characters in ordinary circumstances, all is neat and tidy and as it should be, beautifully described and then suddenly there is an underlying menace. If you are a short story fan these are glorious. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'These stories are a slight departure for Galley Beggar Press. We generally champion less well know writers and - as I’m guessing you already know - DJ Taylor has already made his reputation. It’s also a departure because it's our first collection of short stories. Part of the reason we’ve published it is because we believe that short stories deserve more coverage. This is a book that proves how artistically important and rewarding the form can be. But the main reason we’ve put it out there is simply that it’s bloody good. We love these stories. They’re moving and resonant and quietly haunting - as well as often very funny. Hopefully people will be enjoying them for many years to come.' Sam Jordison, Galley Beggar Press
A collection of seventeen wonderful short stories that are surprising, intelligent, heart-warming, and, for the millions and millions of Tom Hanks fans, an absolute must-have showing that two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks is as talented a writer as he is an actor. Known for his honesty and sensitivity as an actor, Mr Hanks brings both those characteristics to his writing. Alternatingly whimsical, moving and occasionally melancholy, Uncommon Type is a book that will delight as well as surprise his millions of fans. It also establishes him as a welcome and wonderful new voice in contemporary fiction, a voice that perceptively delves beneath the surface of friendships, families, love and normal, everyday behaviour.
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.
August 2015 Book of the Month. Deaver’s third collection of short stories contains twelve pieces and every one one of them a gem of a read full of clever plotting, surprise, tension and the occasional 'I never saw that coming' moments. Six are new; one Lincoln Rhyme, one Kathryn Dance, one John Pellam and three stand-alones. Two of the older ones, The Therapist and Forever, border on the occult and one, Paradise, with its terrific twist, is the author’s favourite. It is in fact a wonderful introduction to his work that we are pretty sure you'll quickly get hooked on.
A cunning collection of short stories from the master of misdirection, including original tales featuring the hugely popular series characters Lincoln Rhyme and Kathryn Dance. TENSION ...An aging actor attempts to revive his career by entering a celebrity poker game for a reality TV show. Can he outwit his devious opponents, or is his fate doomed from the outset? CONSPIRACY ...A successful crime writer dies under seemingly natural circumstances, but for one cop, doubts are lingering. There's certainly motive for murder - or is there more to the case than meets the eye? MURDER ...Lincoln Rhyme is announced dead, shot by one of his suspects in cold blood. Is this the end of the line for the criminalist, or just another twist in the tale? King of suspense Jeffery Deaver grips with every page, setting out a devilishly clever path where nothing is as it seems. If you think you know the ending, think again ...
One of our Books of the Year 2015. It is almost impossible to talk about how good Neil Gaiman’s writing is in a short review like this; once started it is hard to stop. He is wonderful. Truly. Dark, mystical, poetic, surprising; one of the greatest living writers we have. I am so in love with his brain it’s crazy. There is nothing that does not happen or cannot exist. His lyrical prose pulls you in and takes you willingly to impossible places. Remember to read the whole thing; notes, introduction, epilogues, everything, because he hides beautiful secrets in the bits that can be boring from other authors. He is amazing, an international treasure. These stories are creepy and beautiful, dark and hopeful, with hidden twists and layers you do not expect. Like I said, it is good. Really good. And check out his other works; his first story collection was Smoke and Mirrors. February 2015 eBook of the Month.
In 1919 Emily Ehrlich watches as two young airmen, Alcock and Brown, emerge from the carnage of World War One to pilot the very first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to the west of Ireland. In 1845 Frederick Douglass, a black American slave, lands in Ireland to champion ideas of democracy and freedom, only to find a famine unfurling at his feet. And in 1998 Senator George Mitchell criss-crosses the ocean in search of an elusive Irish peace. Stitching these stories intricately together, Colum McCann sets out to explore the fine line between what is real and what is imagined, and the tangled skein of connections that make up our lives.
November 2012 Book of the Month. Linking a group of passengers on a Edinburgh to London train, this is an exquisitely produced pocket-sized edition of his latest book and it’s a perfect gift or stocking filler. Four passengers meet on a train and exchange stories of love and railways. Poignant stories full of warmth, romance and charm.
September 2017 Book of the Month A heart-warming stand-alone novel about a group of passengers on an Edinburgh to London train. They have one thing in common - they have all been in love. Poignant stories full of warmth, romance and charm. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'McCall Smith possesses an amazing gift to be able to write about love. He does it with warmth and great perception, whilst avoiding the pitfalls of sentimentality. It takes great skill to be able to write this well, and great humanity; qualities he has in abundance.' - Neville Moir, Birlinn Ltd
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.
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.