Sunday, 23 November 2014



It could be that I'm the wrong reader because I've never really cared for short stories. They're too short. You can't get engrossed in a short story, or hardly ever. (I make an exception for Annie Proulx's Brokeback Mountain which is the most perfect short story ever written.)
But I'm eagerly awaiting Hilary Mantel's next Thomas Cromwell instalment next year and so I hoped this might fill the gap, even though some of the stories are several years old. 1993, in one case, and it shows.
Wish I could say that the others are Hilary Mantel at the peak of her powers, but they're not. They seem stagey and contrived and only the first one rang true - about a Pakistani businessman who foists himself as an unwanted visitor on an unhappy expat housewife holed up in Jeddah. It feels autobiographical; Mantel lived in Jeddah for four years in the 1980s and said it was the happiest day of her life when she left.
I've still got a couple of stories to go. But I might just let this one go back to the library tomorrow as there's a waiting list for it. You can read the Mrs Thatcher story here, but it struck me as Mantel trying to be controversial for the sake of it.

7 comments:

Mystica said...

I am reading Family Matters by Elizabeth Berridge right now. A collection of sixteen short stories which are delightful. Set during wartime England they may appeal to you (and change your opinion a bit!) The book can be downloaded from Open Library.

mary said...

Thank you, Mystica. I'll do that. Darlene was saying that she'd just ordered a collection of her stories from Persephone but I haven't read anything by her.

Sue said...

I loved the two volumes of Mollie Panter Downes' short stories and Dorothy Whipples' all published by Persephone. I like domestic settings.

Gina said...

I always feel like that about short stories. I have never enjoyed them.

mary said...

Yes, I did enjoy those, Sue. Maybe the old-fashioned ones are the best. But I'd still prefer a good long read!

mary said...

And I've got Alice Munro stories for this month's book group, Gina. I can see she is a wonderful writer but I'm not in the right mood for them.

callmemadam said...

I'm always disappointed when I find that a book by a favourite author consists of short stories (I don't include P G Wodehouse). Like Sue, I did enjoy the Dorothy Whipple stories published by Persephone.

which is the most perfect short story ever written
For me, that accolade goes to a song: Ode to Billie Joe.