The Best British Short Stories 2014 by Nicholas Royle (editor)
|The Best British Short Stories 2014 by Nicholas Royle (editor)|
|Category: Short Stories|
|Reviewer: Susmita Chatto|
|Summary: A box of delights to suit a range of tastes.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: July 2014|
|Publisher: Salt Publishing|
|External links: Author's website|
I’m a keen reader and I like a massive tome. But every so often, I drift into a mode of finding it hard to settle to anything and at such times, I like to read short stories. I also enjoy them when I’m horribly busy and don’t have the time to read much more.
This is not to say that the short story, as a format, has to have any less meaning or impact than full length novels. One of the joys of reading short stories is often that the speed with which a successful short story can whisk you into another world and give you a break from life. A short journey in a fictional world can be incredibly mentally reviving.
This collection is perfect for that kind of escapism and it also introduced me to several writers of whom I knew little or nothing. The sources for the collection were varied, including some written specifically for short story competitions and some written for creative websites hosting all kinds of media.
The topics covered are delightfully varied and the stories range in length from four pages to twenty five, so there are plenty of options to suit a commute, a lunch hour or just waiting for that friend who is perpetually ten minutes late.
The skill of instantly transferring the reader to another world is best demonstrated by the shortest story, The Spiral Staircase by Jay Griffiths. This was a world that had tears pricking my eyelids after just half a page, but the ensuing three pages removed all trace of them. It’s the story of Len, an ambulance driver working in London in the Blitz – and of course, I can’t tell you any more because as a four page story, the only information left is a spoiler!
Another great skill of the short story writer is to create the illusion of time in a limited allocation of words. I thought this was best achieved by Philip Langeskov’s Barcelona which packed an emotional journey into the short story equivalent of a bag that would pass the strictest hand luggage rules.
Characters have very limited time to spring to life in a short story, though to be frank, reading the best short stories sometimes makes me think those techniques could be employed in longer forms of fiction as well. This collection crosses times and types and situations; but in spite of that, I think you could comfortably read it without needing too much time between each story. Each piece of work flows beautifully and is a pleasure to read.
Nicholas Royle’s selection is superb and I will certainly be looking at previous editions.
For more of the best short stories we can recommend Best British Short Stories 2013 by Nicholas Royle (editor)
You can read more book reviews or buy The Best British Short Stories 2014 by Nicholas Royle (editor) at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Best British Short Stories 2014 by Nicholas Royle (editor) at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.