HELP YOURSELF By Curtis Sittenfeld (Doubleday £8.99, 96pp)
By Curtis Sittenfeld (Doubleday £8.99, 96pp)
Pitch perfect and laceratingly funny, these three outstanding stories from the author of recently published Rodham head into the territory of emotional unease, as her witty and witless characters grapple with their failings and flailing egos.
The wince-inducing opening story, White Women LOL, sees earnest party-goer Jill approach ‘a table of five people who hadn’t been there when she’d entered the restroom. They were black’, and ask them to leave the hired private room — an exchange that is shared on social media.
In Creative Differences, a citified producer comes a cropper with a local artist who realises his documentary is really an advert and refuses to play his game, despite the exposure it would provide for her.
While in Show Don’t Tell, an aspiring writer attempts to refute a classmate’s suggestion that ‘great literature has never been written by a beautiful woman’. Brilliant.
THE ART OF THE GLIMPSE Selected By Sinead Gleeson (Apollo £25, 816pp)
THE ART OF THE GLIMPSE
Selected By Sinead Gleeson (Apollo £25, 816pp)
There are 100 Irish stories in this comprehensive collection, giving voice to the forgotten or overlooked alongside the famous and familiar. There’s a puckish prank of a story from the contrary Samuel Beckett, a cheeky comedic tale from Dracula author Bram Stoker and an engaging examination of the language of love from Sally Rooney.
The brilliant, moving Stand Your Skin by Colin Barrett heads into rural ruination and working-class devastation as Bat attempts to come to terms with a brain injury acquired in a premeditated attack in the chippy, while the irrepressible Kit de Waal offers the perennial possibility of hope in The Beautiful Thing.
REALITY AND OTHER STORIES by John Lanchester (Faber £12.99, 240pp)
REALITY AND OTHER STORIES
by John Lanchester (Faber £12.99, 240pp)
As the evenings draw in there’s an appetite for fireside tales that raise goosebumps in a shivery appreciation of the unknown.
John Lanchester optimistically hopes to fit neatly into that ghostly genre, but falls short —the stories here are more lukewarm than uncannily chilly.
There are a couple of genuine scares — the hideous laughter of a malicious, dead father-in-law echoing on a phone line in Cold Call and the eerie vision of a deceased dad attempting to find mobile reception to ring his children in Signal are both neatly spooky.
Overall, it’s disappointing.
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