Newest Short Stories Reviews

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Philip K Dick's Electric Dreams by Philip K Dick

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Philip K Dick's stories were originally published in the 50s, but they are more present than past. On the big screen Blade Runner 2049 relaunched the Dick-inspired cult classic to reviews of pure praise; and on slightly smaller screens, Channel 4 has adapted the author's short stories for TV. Startlingly, Dick's current relevance reaches beyond fiction and into the factual: his topics from intrusive advertising and loss of privacy to the increasing machination of society are all headline material in today's news. It is as if half a century after their inception, Dick's electric dreams are becoming reality. Full review...

Fifteen Minutes by Erinna Mettler

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Our world is obsessed with celebrity culture - and in this advent of social media, the updates on celebrity come 24 hours a day, delivered to us on our televisions, our magazines, on our phones and our computers. In focusing on these heightened and airbrushed lives though, are we missing the more interesting and human stories that are out there? That's what Erinna Mettler considers in 15 Minutes - short stories that feature celebrity encounters told through the eyes of ordinary, but no less compelling, characters. Full review...

Taking Wainui by Laura Solomon

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This is the first time I have come across Laura Solomon's work, a New Zealand writer who has won writing prizes for both her fiction and poetry. Although this book appears to be a collection of short stories, I found its format somewhat confusing. Full review...

Winter Tales by Kenneth Steven

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Upon opening this book you are presented with an eclectic collection of twelve short stories centred around a common theme of Winter. You are taken around the world as you read stories set in a variety of places from Helsinki to New York, Germany to Russia. Kenneth Steven cleverly utilises a key component of short stories - that you can read each story in one sitting - to his advantage as he gives each story an individual focal subject, such as bullying, ensuring that you are reading a distinct story every time you open the book. Full review...

Fear by Roald Dahl

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Do you enjoy being scared? Featuring fourteen classic spine-chilling stories chosen by Roald Dahl, these terrible tales of ghostly goings-on will have you shivering with fear as you turn the pages. Full review...

War by Roald Dahl

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In war, are we at our heroic best or our cowardly worst? Featuring the autobiographical stories from Roald Dahl's time as a fighter pilot in the Second World War as well as seven other tales of conflict and strife, Dahl reveals the human side of our most inhumane activity. Full review...

Trickery by Roald Dahl

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How underhand could you be to get what you want? In these ten tales of dark and twisted trickery Roald Dahl reveals that we are at our smartest and most cunning when we set out to deceive others - and, sometimes, even ourselves. Here, among others, you'll read of the married couple and the parting gift which rocks their marriage, the light fingered hitch-hiker and the grateful motorist, and discover why the serious poacher keeps a few sleeping pills in his arsenal. Full review...

Innocence by Roald Dahl

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What makes us innocent and how do we come to lose it? Featuring the autobiographical stories telling of Roald Dahl's boyhood and youth as well as four further tales of innocence betrayed, Dahl touches on the joys and horrors of growing up. Among other stories, you'll read about the wager that destroys a girl's faith in her father, the landlady who has plans for her unsuspecting young guest and the commuter who is horrified to discover that a fellow passenger once bullied him at school. Full review...

Some of Us Glow More Than Others by Tania Hershman

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I won't be alone in stating that reading short story collections can be slightly awkward. Going through from A-Z, witnessing a bounty of ideas and characters in short order can be too much, but do you have the right to pick and choose according to what appeals, and what time you have to fill? The sequence has carefully been considered, surely. Such would appear to be the case here. The last time I read one of this author's collections, with The White Road, the only real difficulty was holding back and rationing them, but here you not only get a whopping forty pieces of writing, they are also spread into sections. Full review...

A Change Is Gonna Come by Various Authors

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A Change Is Gonna Come is an anthology of stories and poems interpreting the theme of change by twelve BAME writers. It's Stripes Publishing's response to the under-representation of BAME authors in the UK. And it's a great response. Full review...

The Madonna of the Pool by Helen Stancey

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In most short story collections, an overarching theme is usually present in each of the narratives which help each story gently flow in to the next. In this debut collection Helen Stancey explores the quiet disappointments, achievements, and complications that each of us experience through everyday life. She draws attention to the small events and decisions that can both disrupt and significantly alter the lives of others and ourselves, all while maintaining a delicately poetic tone throughout. Full review...

Worlds from the Word's End by Joanna Walsh

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We here at The Bookbag liked this author's fairly recent collection of short stories, Vertigo. I myself missed out, but that seemed to be vignettes from one character's narration – here we get homosexual male narrators and a host more, as well as much less of the sadness prevalent before. Having had a brief encounter with this author courtesy of her entry into the Object Lessons series, I was intrigued by her name being stamped on a selection of shorts. Was it the ideal calling card? Let's face it, the very short story itself can be a postcard – let's say, from a specific hotel or two, as we see here. Perhaps I should have geared myself up, however, for such intricate writing on said postcards – and for the exotic locations from which they came… Full review...

Some Possible Solutions by Helen Phillips

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Picture a world where you, a new mother, move to a town where you slowly start to realise that every other woman seems a replica of you – dressing and doing as you do. Consider a place where you have a perfect other half – most literally – but it's only to be found on an alien planet. Or how about the woman who suddenly finds she can see everything and everyone else alive as having no skin, just organs, tissue and bone as if everyone was having a Gunther von Hagens plastination job? A lot of these stories are hard to summarise without dropping into the voice of the Twilight Zone narration, but they're not specifically genre works – they're just further examples of this author's unsettling look at the bizarre elements of life. Full review...

The Wandering Earth by Cixin Liu

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If anyone thought that the short story as a form had been relegated to the pages of women's magazines (no disrespect) – think again. One genre that has always been a stalwart supporter and encourager of the short form is Sci-fi. So when you pick up a collection of Sci-fi shorts, you know that it will have just as much depth and thought-provoking philosophy as any similar novel. Add to that the intrigue of seeing how the concepts are approached by someone from China which – to be polite – has a somewhat different world-view in many ways to much of the rest of the planet…and add to that an author who is not only a best-seller in his home country but has the distinction of having produced the first translated work of SF ever to win the Hugo Award…this has got to be good! Full review...

I Am The Brother Of XX by Fleur Jaeggy and Gini Alhadeff (translator)

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I Am The Brother of XX is a collection of twenty one short stories from Fleur Jaeggy, who expertly wields malevolence and spite throughout, from the evil done between husband and wife in The Aviary, a nasty tale of Oedipal menace and vicious, although admittedly, artful cruelty, to senseless annihilation and immolation in The Heir. Jaeggy also appears to have a particular fascination with religion, from the nun receiving a rather special sort of communion in The Visitor to general references to the Church and religious devotion throughout many of her stories. Family is also a recurrent theme; whether focused on the distance between siblings in the titular story, told from the point of view of a brother filled with longing and loneliness trying to create a bond with his distant older sister, or the primal need to protect the bond between mother and son, regardless of the cost in Adelaide. Full review...

You Will Grow Into Them by Malcolm Devlin

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You Will Grow Into Them is a thrilling collection of ten short stories all centred on the nature of transition and change. The often grisly, macabre and ghoulish nature of the stories included in Devlin's debut collection are intoxicatingly illicit and the darkness within each tale is deviously addictive. Full review...

Letters From Klara by Tove Jansson

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Famed in the UK for her creation of the Moomin family, Jansson is rather belatedly beginning to gather the richly deserved esteem for her adult writings. For that I offer my heart-felt thanks to publishers Sort of books and Thomas Teal, who has been responsible for most of the translations. Receiving this one, two things strike: firstly I somehow seem to have missed one of the series, and secondly there'll come a time sooner rather than later when there'll be no more to be had. The former will be rectified, the latter is a sad thought. Full review...

No Middle Name by Lee Child

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There is a theory, to which those who regularly read my reviews will know I sometimes subscribe, which says that the short story's heyday has passed and it has now put itself out to grass. This is particularly true, some say, and I have been known to concur, of the crime and thriller genres. Tosh! I can only apologise to all authors involved and own up: I simply haven't been paying attention. Not even to shorter offerings my by favourite authors. So: big thanks to Lee Child and publishers Bantam Press for putting me straight with No Middle Name : a collection of short stories about my favourite latter-day, American-style, Robin Hood by the name of Jack Reacher. Full review...

A Fanfare of Tales by Patrick C Reidy

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I love short stories, so I'm always happy when a new collection arrives for review. A Fanfare of Tales by Patrick C Reidy promises me a compilation of short stories that highlight the adventures of diverse characters as each encounters unforeseen challenges. I like this premise. So how does the book shape up? Full review...

Children of Lucifer: Modesty Blaise by Peter O'Donnell and Enric Badia Romero

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Out of ninety-five diverse comic strip stories, the publication of this book leaves just the last three yet to be presented in these fabulous large format paperbacks. So if you haven’t yet met with the sassy brunette with her curves and her great crime-solving mind, and of course with her Willie, this is the last-but-one chance for you to do so. And if you have any interest in quick little action tales, or even dated kitsch, for both apply here, then you should eagerly be on board… Full review...

Miraculous Mysteries (British Library Crime Classics) by Martin Edwards (editor)

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Consider the following scenario: a policeman hears someone screaming and runs to a house on a particular street, number 13, from where the noise is emanating. When he peeps through the letterbox he discovers a dead man in the hallway with a knife in his throat. He goes to fetch help, but upon returning, finds that the street does not have a number 13 and that the body and the room he saw have both mysteriously vanished... Full review...

UFOs and GOD: A Collection of Short Stories by Michael R Lane

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From stories of young people caught up in a Robin Hood style operation gone wrong, to a believer in God having her faith shaken by the arrival of aliens, author Michael R Lane has compiled a collection of fascinating and clever short stories here. From farm to urban, from World War II to the Digital Age, the places and times, people and events in UFOs and God spotlight the tender underbelly of the human condition in all its glory and despair on these varied stages of fiction. Full review...

For a Little While by Rick Bass

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For a Little While is a collection of twenty-five short stories from Rick Bass. As someone previously unacquainted with Bass' work this new collection was a wonderful introduction to his quirky, unusual style which focuses on stripped back, simple fables featuring often mundane situations, mysterious characters and magical experiences. The characters in each tale are beautifully crafted and the stories are dreamy, loose narratives covering everything from love to death to choices made and chances taken. Full review...

A Collection of Short Stories by Gillian Fletcher-Edwards

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Marged Evans allowed a break-up with a lover to affect everything in her life. Osian wanted to invest in the present but Marged loved the past. Since they drifted apart, Marged's life has been careful, ordered, unadventurous. But then Osian sends her a Christmas card and everything changes. Marged Evans is the first and longest in this collection of short stories from Gillian Fletcher-Edwards. It's almost a novella and its initially slow pace sets off quite the masterclass in how one event can throw everything into unexpected - but lovely - chaos. Full review...

The Book of English Folk Tales by Sybil Marshall and John Lawrence

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From ghosts to witches, to giants and fairies, The Book of English Folk Tales is a fascinating collection of stories retold by social historian and folklorist Sybil Marshall. Out of print for over three decades, this beautiful new clothbound edition is complete with wood engraved illustrations by John Lawrence and is sure to capture the attention of a new generation of lovers of folklore. Full review...

1588: A Calendar of Crime (A Hew Cullan Mystery) by Shirley McKay

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A lot of crime happens in St Andrews during 1588 and therefore in the life of law lecturer and local investigator Hew Cullen too. As we travel through the year with him, his recently wedded English wife Frances, doctor brother in law Giles and his sister Meg, the wise woman, we also encounter some of his most interesting cases. In fact there's one to match each of the year's big festivals: Candlemas, Whitsun, Lammas, Martinmas and Yule. Full review...

Sins by Mary Telford and Louise Verity

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Is there enough new to say about the seven deadly sins? We've seen them all shown to us, from school age and up to the movie Se7en, which we sincerely hope was NOT shown to anyone at school age. We can each recount them all, having been long familiar with them, even if we probably can't pin down when they were actually set in stone without help. Similarly, is there anything new in the world of fairy tale? We know the tropes - characters identified by their status or gender (the woman, the husband), a clear set of rules to obey, and a moral as strong as, if not stronger than, the formulae involved. Well, this volume demands we decide the answer to those questions as being positive ones, and if it's not always definitive in the writing here that there is something new, rest assured there will be something in the imagery that will definitely strike one as fresh... Full review...

How Much the Heart Can Hold: Seven Stories on Love by Carys Bray and others

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This Sceptre collection does not have as simple a remit as it might appear; these are no straightforward love stories. Instead, they each take one aspect of love – often one of the ancient Greek classifications – and provide a whole new way of thinking about it. After all, the heart holds a lot of metaphorical weight. Full review...

Cockfosters by Helen Simpson

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This was a belated reunion for me, having been introduced to the author's snappy short story collections courtesy the very first one while at uni. Mind, it was a much more gentle and placid reunion than the one that starts this book – Julie and Philippa have had a shop-bought curry together, but have had to forsake a cultural chat for a trip haring along the London Underground chasing after a pair of glasses one of them left behind. The piece is definitely about the subject of ageing – about time passed and what might be remaining ahead – but you soon discover that not only do all the pieces here have titles that are unadorned place names, but they all concern that very theme. Can anyone, let alone Helen Simpson, sustain such a vaguely morbid topic over a full collection? Full review...