Posts tagged ‘Short Stories’

June 17, 2018

In her Prime

by Team Riverside

MurielSparkHere at Riverside we’re pleased to see that The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at the Donmar is getting good reviews – and particularly that its characterisation of the troublingly fascism-sympathetic Brodie cleaves to Spark’s original vision – because a few of us are massive fans of the late Scottish author (and total genius).

So it’s as good a time as any to say that we’ve got in a raft of her best works – some in absolutely gorgeous new editions from Polygon – from her complete short story collection to some deep cuts more than worthy of your time.

There’s early chiller The Ballad of Peckham Rye, in which a devilish stranger turns the titular district upside-down, showcasing Spark’s fully-formed blend of blitheness and villainy. It’s a twisting delight, shocking and beguiling, with the wicked purpose of a Grimm’s fairy tale.

Comic gem A Far Cry From Kensington is a blast, a coiled spring of absurd characters, mysterious goings on, blackmail and backstabbing, the upper-class ne’er-do-wells of Agatha Christie meeting the upper-class ne’er-do-wells of Oscar Wilde. The narrator Mrs Hawkins’ misadventures in publishing, as her honesty brings the ire of influential writer Hector Bartlett, are as nutty as her ruminations are sometimes thought-provoking.

Then there’s unsung masterwork Memento Mori, which we’ve got in a beautiful new Virago and a Polygon edition. It’s a piercingly funny, at times very moving examination of the ignominy of old age; and, it being Spark, it’s all wrapped in a delicious blend of mystery and deception. Easily as good as Ms Jean Brodie.

And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg – we’re carrying a multitude more, all of which prove that this brilliant novelist could go head-to-head with Highsmith when it comes to bleakness, Greene when it comes to conspiracy and Wodehouse when it comes to wit. Every story will stick in your mind long after you’ve finished it, and that’s a Riverside guarantee.

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November 5, 2016

The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories

by Team Riverside

Hardback, Faber and Faber, £10, out nowp-d-james-the-mistletoe-murder

This is a very welcome collection of four new short stories from the much missed author of exceptional psychological crime mysteries.  Val McDermid’s introduction commends James for taking us to places that are “dark, vicious and shocking.  But always beautifully written”.

My favourite is the deeply menacing and highly believable A Very Commonplace Murder, which reminded me of a Shirley Jackson short story in its precise and convincing suburban horror.  A man asks for a key to view a rental flat, and the house agent suspects he is not genuinely interested in renting it.  The agent is right.  “It was the first time he had been back since it all happened sixteen years ago.  He came neither as a pilgrim nor a penitent.  He had returned under some compulsion which he hadn’t even bothered to analyse”.  And so we are compelled to find out what happened in this flat, and what this man’s relationship to it was.

I was glad to meet favourite detective Adam Dalgleish again in The Twelve Clues of Christmas.

In a lovely small hardback edition, this is great gift for fans of crime fiction, especially those who thought we’d never have another new thing from P D James to savour.  If you’re buying one Christmas crime book this year, make it this one.

Review by Bethan

November 16, 2015

The American Lover, by Rose Tremain

by Team Riverside

Paperback £8.99, Vintage, out nowRose Tremain THE AMERICAN LOVER

I don’t often feel like reading short stories, but this collection by one of my favourite novelists makes for a swift and pleasurable read. The stories are diverse but this manages not to jar, which is especially impressive given their variety.

Tolstoy is dying in a Russian stationmaster’s house – but what do their respective wives think about this? In my favourite story, A View of Lake Superior in the Fall, an American couple run away from their troublesome adult daughter to a winter cabin by a lake.

The best first line in the collection in my view belongs to The Housekeeper: “Everybody believes that I am an invented person: Mrs Danvers”. This is a strong and engagingly written selection. Recommended.

Review by Bethan

July 23, 2011

In-flight Entertainment: Helen Simpson

by Stuart

London’s Helen Simpson is one of our best living writers of short stories and this, her fifth collection, is another tour de force that you’ll end up pressing on everyone you know. Underpinned by a burning anxiety about the looming threat of climate change, the stories in In-Flight Entertainment do more in a few pages than most novels do in hundreds. Flick to ‘Diary of an Interesting Year’ (page 116) and you’ll start to get the picture. Set in a cholera-and-typhoid-ravaged apocalyptic England in 2040, it’s like The Road in twelve pages, only better. Utterly unlike anything Simpson has tried before, it’s well worth the price of the whole book on its own.

July 4, 2011

Acid House: Irvine Welsh

by Nicola

A disgusting, vile and vivid collection of short stories riddled with sex, drugs and insects, plus smatterings ofAmsterdamand Stoke Newington.  Very grubby, very Nineties, and very brilliant.

April 8, 2011

Cathedral: Raymond Carver

by Nicola

The magic and mastery of Carver’s short story writing is nothing short of breathtaking.  Let yourself be swept away into the lives of ordinary folk facing bleak truths, disappointments and small revelations.  Be sure of a sharp jolt ending then spend the rest of the day just thinking.  You will not regret it.