"Rain Darling", Merle Collins

Short stories, 1990 Short story collection and a bit of a mixed bag. Of the seven pieces, the three more extended works pack a huge emotional punch, while the remainder feel more like exercises in reportage. The family tragedies in Rain and My Sister Cherish are particularly poignant and hugely moving, with the narrative mixing matter of fact, unsentimental language with some truly heart wrenching … Continue reading "Rain Darling", Merle Collins

"Hangman’s Holiday", by Dorothy L Sayers

Short stories, 1933 Stories concerning themselves more with the thoughts than the deeds on the part of Lord Peter Wimsey and the even more excellently named Montagu Egg. These stories are entertaining for the most part, although details which demand close attention – times of events and Monty Egg’s Salesman’s Handbook prominently feature, often derail the pace and the reader’s attention. While the plots are … Continue reading "Hangman’s Holiday", by Dorothy L Sayers

"Tenth of December", by George Saunders

Short stories, 2013 Short story collection of surprising and stylishly varied content. Some of the pieces are absolutely captivating and hugely thought provoking – others a little less so. Overall, there’s a high standard, with society scrutinised and human frailties writ large. “The Semplica Girls” and “Escape from Spiderland” are particularly effective in showing how much of a veneer human relations can present and how … Continue reading "Tenth of December", by George Saunders

"Dance of the Happy Shades", by Alice Munro

Fiction, 1968 Excellent collection of early stories from Alice Munro in which senses and incidents – usually domestic and unremarkable – are described and shot through with details which, often as not, give a real emotive kick up the backside. In describing situations and behaviours, Munro evokes huge feelings of sadness or disquiet, but at all times, humanity shines through. These stories are at once … Continue reading "Dance of the Happy Shades", by Alice Munro