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  1. #26

    Bill Naughton and the art of the short story

    Just read "man v nature "enjoyed it, thanks for the recommendation

  2. #27

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    Bill Naughton and the art of the short story

    I bought a Penguin classics collection of Sherlock Holmes short stories, does that count? I hope Mr Conan Doyle appreciates me helping pay his mortgage.

    Tip for publishers: I only bought it because the book is small. Pocket-sized. Commuter-sized. Hunched in a crowded cafe-sized. The art of the small story is what matters here.

  3. #28

    Bill Naughton and the art of the short story

    Can'r believe Alice Munro hasn't been mentioned. so I'll mention her.

    I like this from Jennifer Egan too

    It only take a couple of minutes.

  4. #29
    Mr Beast's Avatar
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    I've just finished Jon Macgregor's This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You. It was alright.


    Obviously that it the sort of white hot review which will get the press pestering admin5 for my details and offering me a deal ala BDG.


    I will elaborate a little: a couple of stories were very good, most were OK (no more) and a couple had me assuming my book had fallen prey to catastrophic printing errors which had removed all context and interest from the pieces.

  5. #30
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    I wrote one last week. A short story. First in a few years. Emailed it to my girlfriend last night so she could read it on the way to work, and she gave me some feedback so I'm going to retouch bits of it before sending it to a few friends to see what they think. And while she was telling me what she thought earlier, I realised the story I'd written also serves as a pen portrait of one of the protagonists of the novel I've been imagining but not actually writing for about a year and a half now. I think I'm very slowly starting to write again.

    Feels good.

  6. #31
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    Joining the still disturbing Joy Williams on my night stand (three-quarters finished, but I'm finding the best pace to tackle a voluminous short story collection by a single author is over several months) is a volume of stories by David Constantine, 'In Another Country', which I started on a plane at the weekend. These are crushingly brilliant too. There's a story called Trains that I can't even begin to describe that's been haunting me ever since I read it on Saturday. He takes his ideas to some off-road location and tugs at them like a cat toying with a mouse. Another story, The Loss, describes some investment banker type who one day just loses his soul and has to keep plodding through life without one - I once had an idea for a short story about a banker accidentally taking his conscience to work and all the hilarious consequences thereof, but I never got around to writing it and it's just as well because it would have been nothing like as masterful as this. Superbly crafted work.

  7. #32
    imp's Avatar
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    Well bugger me - I was going through emails from an account I don't use much, and almost deleted one from two weeks ago that linked to this welcome news. The prize is... 75. The recognition, though, feels like sinking into a bath of silk and champagne. Or, at least a glass of prosecco happily perched on top of a mountain of previous rejection slips. It's not exactly the Booker, but I'm still contemplating whether or not it justifies getting hammered tonight.

  8. #33
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    Congratulations. That's excellent.

  9. #34
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    Well done, man. But no, don't get hammered. Then you'll just be another feckless writer with a drink problem. Not...you know...whatever you are right now, whom we know and love.

  10. #35
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    Thanks, gentlemen. Didn't get hammered, but it did give me an excuse to have a couple of beers while watching Germany v Russia. And as we all know from what we were told at Sunday School - pride comes before a fall. Went out running this morning and 20 yards up our street I tripped over the jutting-out stand of a bicycle locked to a lamp-post and went flying. Both knees and one elbow shredded like a six-year-old's after a playground kickaround, and my right wrist is throbbing. Good excuse not to do the ironing, though. And another excuse to drink, I suppose (not that I usually need one).

  11. #36
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    Finally finished Joy Williams, and am slightly sad about that. The stories get even bleaker as she gets older. The final story, 'Craving', is about an alcoholic couple just drifting from town to town, motel to motel, and has some great lines:

    "They took suites whenever possible. The gin seemed to need a room of its own."

    Or, when they rent a house instead of a hotel and are trying to give up drinking: "Maybe they could get rid of all the glasses in the house. Glasses were always calling to you."

    The penultimate story, 'The Mother Cell', is about an informal support group of mothers whose children are all convicted murderers. One of the group dies but it feels like she's still around: "In general they believed that the dead remained around, fulfilling all but the most technical requirements of residency on earth, yet relieved of the banality of daily suffering. In this respect, they could argue, though they never did, that their children's victims weren't as bad off as commonly assumed."

    That insertion of "though they never did" is just writer's master-class.

  12. #37
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    Indeed it is. I might have a look at that.

    I might not have mentioned it on Current Reading, since I'm not on as much while I'm over here, but I'm currently getting through Ray Bradbury's Golden Apples of the Sun. It's quite a lot less sci-fi heavy than I had been lead to expect.

  13. #38
    imp's Avatar
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    Finished the David Constantine short stories. It was definitely worth taking the time to savour them slowly. Beautiful work.

    Also, I wrote this piece about how a Primo Levi short story in the 1960s foresaw with uncanny accuracy the advent of virtual reality headsets.

  14. #39
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    Thanks to imp for ploughing a lone furrow for a couple of years. His spell in the wilderness on this thread led me to some short story collections which it has been a real pleasure to read.

    I'd echo the praise for Colin Barrett's Skins, looking forward to whatever he does next.

    I've just finished 10th December by George Saunders and enjoyed it immensely. I have taken my time with it but sadly Mrs Beast has noticed I finished and has told me to put the 2 tonnes of gravel sitting on our driveway in the garden as promised several weeks ago. She's a cruel mistress.

  15. #40
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    Whilst in the UK, I got - as Mundane Thread regulars will be aware - a mobile that isn't totally shit. A side effect of this is that I can now read things on web pages when I'm on the Subte (the Buenos Aires metro), because my phone's good enough to store pages for offline viewing, rather than showing me a refusal to load and complaining I'm not connected to the internet when I bring up the screen I'd loaded back at home before setting out so I could have some reading material for my journey, like my old one did.

    Anyway, a side effect of this is that I've started paying a bit more attention to the excellent Daily Fiction section on Literary Hub, where there are frequent (and always free!) tasters of new novels and short story collections on, as the section name suggests, a daily basis. I recommend it (and indeed the rest of that website).

  16. #41
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    'Bad Dreams' by Tessa Hadley - another (slim) volume that I really enjoyed. Real stories, though I realise that sounds vague and trite. There seem to be a lot of visitors, which is a good starting point for any story. One young girl answers the door to a family friend while her parents are out - unbeknown to any of them, he's lost his wife. A woman visits her childhood home, where her sister still lives, but they haven't talked for years - her nephews and nieces all welcome her, but her sister comes home and immediately locks herself in her room. A woman in her 60s recovering from cancer visits her daughter, though they've never been close, and is diverted by a young stranger she meets on the train who bizarrely starts to woo her. A new divorcee house-sits for the friend of a friend who's gone abroad, and starts to poke about in her privacy (see extract below). In the 60s, a girl is abducted for a day and night by drunk students, loses her virginity, and her family barely notices that she was gone at all. In an English village a housekeeper tends to a misanthropic old South African who tries to use her as a way of finally showing some clumsy kindness.

    Random sample quote: "When I put the phone down, I was frightened and excited, as if I had an assignation with a lover. This was preposterous, of course, and I knew it - I hadn't even liked the man and wasn't the least bit attracted to him. Also, he was only coming to drop off some boxes. Yet I hurried upstairs, burdened by the need to get ready for his arrival, as if it were momentous."

  17. #42
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    Since I've written a few more and want to keep doing so, I've taken the first tentative step into the realm of posting fiction I write up in public. So resurrecting my old bits-and-pieces blog, here's a (very) short story what I writ myself.

    I realise it would have been more timely to have posted it about a month and a half ago, but what the hell.

  18. #43
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