Short Stories

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Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang: Shifting cultures

Xuan Juliana Wang’s debut collection comes garlanded with praise from Lauren Groff, herself no slouch when it comes to crafting short stories. Wang explores second-generation immigrants through the lens of experience, having arrived in the States with her parents aged seven. Her collection comprises twelve lengthy stories divided into three sections: Family, Love, and Time …

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Treading the Uneven Road by L. M. Brown: Life on a small stage

Treading the Uneven Road is one of those books I was in two minds about. The author approached me directly which always feels very personal; there’s the worry that an appealing sounding book won’t live up to its promise and might not even get finished let alone reviewed. Given that you’re reading this, it’s clear …

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Show Them a Good Time by Nicole Flattery: An idiosyncratic collection

I’d heard good things about Nicole Flattery’s Show Them a Good Time well before publication, not in a shouty in-your-face, can’t-get-away-from-it kind of way but enough to snag my attention. Then I spotted Jon McGregor’s and Sally Rooney’s comments, both clearly smitten with Flattery’s writing. I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it …

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Jellyfish by Janice Galloway: A reissue, and some.

Given my not-so-new-found delight in short stories I was keen to read Janice Galloway’s Jellyfish having enjoyed both her memoirs and The Trick is to Keep Breathing. Galloway prefaces her collection with David Lodge’s assertion that literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children; life’s the other way round. With its …

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The Wooden Hill by Jamie Guiney: Stairway to heaven?

Jamie Guiney’s collection first caught my eye at What Cathy Read Next. It was its striking jacket that snagged my attention, perfectly fitting its theme with four figures of different ages making their way up a staircase towards a halo although several of Guiney’s characters are more likely to be travelling downwards towards a rather …

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Evening in Paradise by Lucia Berlin: An unexpected treat

I owe my short story conversion largely to Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women. There’d been others along the way but it was Berlin’s collection that sealed the deal. Given that she died in 2004, I’d assumed that was it and so was delighted when Evening in Paradise turned up. Comprising twenty-two stories, this …

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Girl, Balancing by Helen Dunmore: An unexpected, very welcome treat

In his touching Foreword to Girl, Balancing and Other Stories, Helen Dunmore’s son, Patrick Charnley, tells us that she had discussed with him the possibility of a collection of short stories to be published after her death. Charnley mined his mother’s papers and laptop, gathering together thirty-three pieces written in the two decades since Dunmore’s …

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You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld: Appearances can be deceptive

I read Curtis Sittenfeld’s The American Wife on holiday quite some time ago and found it hard to drag myself away from. Those who’ve read it will know that the titular wife is loosely based on Laura Bush which certainly added spice to the reading but the quality of Sittenfeld’s writing would have kept me …

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The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreasen: A strange and wonderful collection

Each and every one of the short stories in Michael Andreasen’s The Sea Beast Takes a Lover is a work of surreal, off-the-wall fantasy, about as far from my usual literary purview as you can get yet they had me transfixed, wondering what kind of wacky journey Andreasen was going to take me on next. …

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Letti Park by Judith Hermann (transl. Margot Bettauer Dembo): Quiet and thoughtful elegance

This is the third book I’ve read by Judith Hermann. Like Alice, the first, Letti Park is a collection of short stories comprising seventeen pieces, some just a few pages long. All three books are characterised by the delicacy of their writing but unlike the stories in Alice which are linked by the theme of …

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The Bear and the Paving Stone by Toshiyuki Horie (transl. Geraint Howells): Memory and friendship

This is the latest in Pushkin Press’ series showcasing contemporary Japanese writing, all brightly packaged and all elegantly slim. It’s the third I’ve read: I started with Hiromi Kawakami’s surreal Record of a Night Too Brief, having enjoyed both Strange Weather in Tokyo and The Nakano Thrift Shop, then ended last year’s reviews with Mieko …

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