Arts and Entertainment

Some great authors have published their worst works from beyond the grave. A few though, keep getting better when they’re dead, such as the Chilean novelist and short story writer, Roberto Bolaño. His seminal five-part novel, 2666, came out posthumously, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and convinced the world he was not just a master of the short form but could put out his life’s best work at nearly 900 pages, even after death.

Butterfly's Shadow, By Lee Langley

Madame Butterfly, the next chapter

Exclusive: Ian Livingstone to write new fantasy story

Fantasy author Ian Livingstone is set to write a new short story as part of a celebration of videogames being held in Nottingham later this year.

A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, By Margaret Drabble

There was once this woman," the title story opens. "She was quite famous, in a way." Social smiling masks the private world. The smiling woman lives above an unspeakable abyss. Its looming presence in the round of Jenny Jamieson's day is signalled in the numb, glazed tone that characterises the fable.

Aphrodite's Hat, By Salley Vickers

The secret lives of others

Win one of five signed copies of CJ Lines' new book Cold Mirrors

Cold Mirrors collects the short stories of acclaimed author CJ Lines for the first time. From the beauty regime of a Victorian drag queen to the dangers of conducting ritual magic on Twitter, these tales traverse the centuries and take a dark, slanted look at hidden realities that lurk beneath the surface of the mundane. Alternately horrifying, heartbreaking and hilarious, Cold Mirrors is an extraordinary collection of stories that will haunt you long after the final page is turned.

The Doll: Short Stories, By Daphne du Maurier

For copyright reasons, there is no Collected Stories of Daphne du Maurier. If published, I believe it would prove Du Maurier to be one of the finest English short story writers. Known primarily for her novels (even then, mainly for Rebecca), Du Maurier's daring and unsettling short works are little discussed. When they are – as in the case of "The Birds" and "Don't Look Now" – it is because of their film adaptation by two great directors, Alfred Hitchcock and Nicolas Roeg.

There But For The, By Ali Smith

There is usually a moment in an Ali Smith story when I ask myself "where can this strangest of beginnings lead?" and another moment when I think "why is half of this chapter written in parenthesis?"

Perfect Lives, By Polly Samson

The title of this short-story collection is of course, ironic. These sensitive studies of women with cheating husbands, babies who adore their babysitters, sensitive piano-tuners, unloving mothers wracked with guilt, are really about the secret disappointments and quiet tragedies that behind the façade of the "perfect life".

The Pale King, By David Foster Wallace

In his last, unfinished novel, David Foster Wallace pays attention to the fine detail of everyday mental activity

Leading article: Short story

It wasn't that long ago that being seen in a pair of shorts was the kiss of fashion death - fine for pre-pubertal boys, perhaps, but only admissible on a grown-up male when worn on the tennis court or the beach.

Touchy Subjects, By Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue's Man Booker-shortlisted Room was inspired by the real life events of the Elisabeth Fritzl case. This collection of short stories, first published in 2006, sees the author in more frivolous mode, though still with a penchant for revealing secrets.

Paris Metro Tales, Edited by Helen Constantine

Below the City of Light runs the dark network of tunnels that makes up the Paris Metro. Editor and translator Helen Constantine has collected 22 short stories by French writers that cover a journey that begins at the Gare du Nord and ends at Lamarck-Caulaincourt.

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