You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

One of my counselling lecturers said something that has stuck with me – “When someone is telling you a story, always listen for the rub.” I knew exactly what he meant. It’s the bit where things don’t quite add up, where someone suddenly reveals more than you expect or conversely, less than you expect. Or the bit where someone reveals a little guilt or anxiety or anger or shame. There’s always a giveaway – the story is told with a ‘but’ or an ‘although’ – however, you have to listen for it.

Curtis Sittenfeld’s You Think It, I’ll Say It, is a collection of short stories, each with their own rub. The stories are about ordinary relationships and situations – a woman runs into a high school frenemy; a volunteer at a women’s refuge takes a disliking to a new, overly enthusiastic colleague; a lonely college student is befriended by a charismatic classmate; a single mother tries to combine work and parenting. Continue reading

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The long and the short of it…

If previous longlists are anything to go by, you’d have to say that short story collections get a fair crack at the Stella Prize. And because I’m going to have a go at predicting the Stella longlist this year, I figured I should read as many eligible books as I can before making a call –

Pulse Points by Jennifer Down Continue reading

The American Lover by Rose Tremain

I have two summer holiday traditions when it comes to reading – tackling one really big book (because if I get engrossed I can block out the day for reading), and a short story collection or two (because I can read and doze and not lose track of where I’m at). Which is why I selected The American Lover by Rose Tremain.

I think of Tremain as a short-story-master and this collection didn’t disappoint. The theme of loneliness, or rather loners, runs through the collection. There’s regrets, ‘could-have-beens’, unfulfilled wishes and compromises – all written about in Tremain’s precise style.

Four stories stood out – Continue reading

100 RPM – One Hundred Stories Inspired By Music by Caroline Smailes

Any book that begins with a playlist and an introduction by Nik Kershaw is obviously going on my reading list.

A quick Nik Kershaw refresher before I get into the nitty-gritty of 100 RPM – One Hundred Stories Inspired By Music, edited by Caroline Smailes –

And a little reminder of when I met him… Continue reading

20 Books of Summer (except that it’s winter)

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge again this year. I’m joining in, with a particular effort to read from my stacks of hard copies. The challenge is straightforward – read twenty books between June 1st and September 3rd. Continue reading

Quick! I need to read a whole book.

Sometimes a very, very short book is just the ticket – reading slump, testing a new genre, choosing something for your book group (because you know they don’t have the stamina for anything over 200 pages), a long train ride…

Here’s a list of my favourite very short books. Continue reading