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.
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Friday 10 December 2010
Friday 03 December 2010
Friday 03 December 2010
Javier Marías, born in 1951 and alongside Enrique Vila-Matas and Roberto Bolaño one of the outstanding names in an extraordinary generation of Spanish-language novelists, first came to prominence in the English-speaking world with his novel All Souls, a clever and extremely funny account of his alter-ego's spell as a lecturer at Oxford. His recent trilogy, Your Face Tomorrow, has earned comparisons with Proust for incisive examination of character.
Tuesday 30 November 2010
Elspeth Barker's is a wholly original literary voice. O Caledonia, first published 20 years ago, reads as freshly now as then. Steeped in classical allusions, rich in Scottish – and natural – history, fantastical in its highly wrought characters, this coming-of-age-novella is as passionately intense as it is wittily acerbic.
Wednesday 10 November 2010
When Simon McBurney and Complicite first collaborated with Tokyo's Setagaya Public Theatre, the result was The Elephant Vanishes, a brilliant evocation of several Murakami short stories about the dizziness brought on by the 24/7 relentlessness of contemporary urban life. Their latest venture is markedly different in its cultural focus.
Sunday 07 November 2010
Ten of these short stories are marked with an asterisk, to indicate that Jeffrey Archer didn't invent them; they were told to him by other people. The remaining five are "the result of my imagination". An interesting divide, especially as the majority of the stories told to him seem to concern cons and money, and the ones he made up flash their outcomes on huge neon signs from the outset. (The protagonist of "Blind Date", for example, is a man who is blind, chatting up a woman in a café. And can you guess, when she leaves, that she, too, turns out to be... No, I won't spoil it for you.)
Tuesday 26 October 2010
Tuesday 19 October 2010
With his work translated into more than a dozen languages, EC Tubb was well known to readers of science fiction the world over. He was extraordinarily prolific. Beginning in 1951, he published over 130 novels and more than 230 short stories in such magazines as Astounding/Analog, Authentic, Galaxy, Nebula, New Worlds,Science Fantasy, Vision of Tomorrow, and more recently in Fantasy Adventures. Many of his short stories were reprinted in various "World's Best SF" anthologies, and his story "Lucifer" won the Europa Prize in 1972. Tubb was appointed editor of Authentic Science Fiction in 1956, and edited it with great panache until its unnecessary demise in 1957.
Friday 15 October 2010
A seasoned reader might pick up this collection of 26 stories produced by the students on Birkbeck's creative writing MA course with a small internal groan, but the quality is suprisingly high with little signs of laboured, classroom learning.
Sunday 22 August 2010
Sunday 15 August 2010
This superb collection of short stories, memoir, artwork and poetry, loosely connected to the theme of "going back", includes contributions by Seamus Heaney and Joseph O'Neill, letters by Iris Murdoch and a recollection of his uncle's farm by Mark Twain. About as eclectic as you can get, then – but that doesn't mean unfocused.
Sunday 01 August 2010
Friday 30 July 2010
Geoff Dyer's latest novel is in fact two long short stories, one set in Venice and one in the Indian city of Varanasi. Each story shares the same protagonist – a middle-aged hack called Jeff, who might, or might not, share much in common with his creator, Geoff.
Monday 19 July 2010
Tuesday 06 July 2010
In November I asked a couple of my literary-minded colleagues to recommend some short stories to me.
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- 1 Double chins could be 'cured' without surgery or dieting using new injection
- 2 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 3 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Thank heavens for Louise Mensch and her foul-mouthed tweets to world leaders