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

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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

Stella Prize 2016 – my predictions

stella-prize-2016-shortlist

Why even write this post given that I’ve been carrying on about Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things since day dot? I think it will win the 2016 Stella Prize tonight (actually, in about two hours).

The Natural Way of Things has it all – it’s relevant; it’s current; it makes you think very hard about things that are hard to think about; the sense of place is exquisite; and Wood writes with such sparing beauty that some sentences left me breathless. But the real strength is in its lasting impression – there are many elements of this book that will stay with me: rabbits, fungi, hair removal, dolls and those bloody gift bags…. The gift bags were Wood’s masterstroke. Continue reading