Posts Tagged ‘Short Stories’

I have recently read “Jigs and Reels”, a collection of short stories by Joanne Harris.

“Jig and Reels” by Joanne Harris (via Goodreads)

The blurb reads:

“Suburban witches, defiant old ladies, ageing monsters, suicidal Lottery winners, wolf men, dolphin women and middle-aged manufacturers of erotic leatherwear: in Joanne Harris’s first collection of short stories the miraculous goes hand-in-hand with the mundane, the sour with the sweet, and the beautiful, the grotesque, the seductive and the disturbing are never more than one step away.”

It has a great range of random stories, with some being better than others. They cover many different topics, from old ageĀ and suicide, to violence and magic, to marriage and societal pressures.

One of my favourites was “Class of ’81”, which is about suburban witches having a school reunion where old issues and underlying feelings come out. I also enjoyed “A Place in the Sun”, which highlights the need and desire to stay young in our society, or risk losing everything. It is quite scary how obsessive people can get!

One disturbing one is “Waiting for Gandalf”, which seems innocent and geeky at first, but then descends into something much more sinister!

It is quite an eclectic selection of short stories, but there’s something for everyone, and if you love Joanne Harris’ books, you’ll definitely love these! I give it 9/10 for originality!

I have just re-read a short story called “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin. I studied this story at university and thought it was a good example of an almost utopian place.

“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin (via Goodreads)

A small blurb for this story:

“Some inhabitants of a peaceful kingdom cannot tolerate the act of cruelty that underlies its happiness.” (via Goodreads)

Omelas is beautiful city by the sea, full of people who were happy, yet were not boring or simple. There is no clergy, no King, no soldiers, no slavery, no drugs. Yet the city is not boring: the people who exist there are peaceful but as complex as normal people. Life seems fairly pleasant in Omelas.

Except that there is a terrible secret buried underneath Omelas.

A child is hidden away in the depths of the city, in a disgusting room where little light enters and food only provided every now and then. A couple of people are brought to this room from time to time to witness this poor child in such a sorry state.

The reason this child is in such a terrible condition is to ensure the rest of the city lives happily. One small act of suffering to enable mass content. And everyone in the city knows this.

Some people accept this situation. They live in the city, feeling glad they can live their lives this way.

Occasionally, there are people who don’t like it or can’t see past it. These are the ones who walk away from the city and are never seen again.

The story sounds so nice at first, but you can tell there is something amiss. It reminds me of the idea of Ying and Yang: two halves of a whole, one half good, one half bad, and each cannot exist without even a tiny piece of the other.

It is horrible to read about this poor child, left in darkness with no-one to love it, with hardly any food or drink. I can understand why people stay and why people go. It just goes to show that no kind of utopia can exist because there will always be something that can’t be resolved so that everyone is happy.

I have just finished reading a short story called “Spider: A Short Story” by Richard Stephenson.

Spider: A Short Story - Richard Stephenson

Spider: A Short Story – Richard Stephenson

It is a sort of extension of another book by the author, which is called “Collapse”. This short story follows one character, a escaped convict called Spider, in the aftermath of an ashcloud killing most of a prison’s population and Spider and a few other escaping.

Spider fights with his fellow escapees and decides to try to get to Las Vegas by himself, despite having no food or drink, and being aware of the fact that he will be killed on sight if he is seen by anyone in the local town (especially as he’s wearing his bright orange convict uniform), which happens to be populated by many of the prison workers.

We not only get a glimpse into the character’s mind and find out what he is like and how he came to be in prison, but we also get the outsider’s glimpse into the world outside the prison, as seen by Zachary Cole, a prison worker. Zachary shows us what is happening in the town with the ashcloud heading towards it and causing many problems.

The ending is unfortunate for Spider, who makes several serious misjudgments!

I give this story 7/10 because it is gripping, easy to read, and makes you want to read “Collapse” to find out more of what happened and to learn more about the characters!

Note: This short story is currently only available as an ebook. (Click the book image above to be taken to Amazon)