Posts Tagged ‘Short Stories’

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)

I have just finished reading “Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now – As Told by Those Who Love it, Hate it, Live it, Left it and Long for it” by Craig Taylor, and was published in the summer of 2012.

Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now - as Told by Those Who Love it, Hate it, Live it, Left it and Long for it - Craig Taylor

Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now – as Told by Those Who Love it, Hate it, Live it, Left it and Long for it – Craig Taylor (via Amazon)

The book description (as seen on Amazon) reads as follows:

“Here are the voices of London – rich and poor, native and immigrant, women and men – witnessed by Craig Taylor, an acclaimed journalist, playwright and writer, who spent five years exploring the city and listening to its residents. From the woman whose voice announces the stations on the London Underground to the man who plants the trees along Oxford Street; from a Pakistani currency trader to a Guardsman at Buckingham Palace – together, these voices and many more, paint a vivid, epic and wholly fresh portrait of Twenty-First Century London.”

Craig Taylor has brought together so many different voices talking about their experiences of London and how they feel about it. There is a decent range of characters from all walks of life telling their stories. Some of the stories are better than others, but altogether they weave a brilliant tapestry about the city.

We get a good glimpse into the minds of people working and living in London, with tales from everyone from London black cab drivers to stock traders to teachers. There are stories about famous landmarks like Big Ben, stories about the codes and etiquette used on the Tube, stories about night-time antics in the city. We get foreigners talking about their experiences of moving to England and London, with a Polish woman talking about coming to London to earn money while leaving her daughter at home in Poland, and then we get the UK residents who have moved to London, including a Geordie girl describing how she moved to London from Newcastle, and her friend who stayed behind in Newcastle.

There is a real mix of people, with a Wiccan, a funeral director, a dominatrix, a street cleaner, a squatter, a rapper, a mother, a paramedic and so on.

The book is divided up into sections, with sections on entertainment, living and dying in the city, buying a home in London, travel, etc. One interesting section of the book is about “Keeping The Peace” where we discover more about how London is kept safe, with stories about court appearances, policing, and especially the riots of 2011.

There were several stories i liked, with the rickshaw rider and the lost property clerk having good tales.

I give this book a 7 out of 10 because there is something for everyone through this range of stories! It’s easy to read a story in a few spare minutes, which is probably better than reading the whole thing in one go! I have to say that this book hasn’t made me want to live in London though! It’s a good book and i recommend it whether you are a Londoner or an outsider like myself!