Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category


Margaret Drabble is a well-known English novelist. I have read several of her books and have always enjoyed them. I had no idea that she was also a writer of short stories. A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman is the first compilation of her stories that has ever been published. They are presented in chronological order beginning in 1964 and ending in 2000. Like her novels, these stories often deal with the plight of women in their times, the socio-cultural aspects of marriage, and the difficulties that women find themselves in while trying to both raise a family and be successful in the business world. The stories are distinctively English; the countryside of England as well as the urban landscapes are vivid throughout. There is a span of thirty-six years between the first short story and the last, giving the themes a relatively large period of time in which to develop.

May 26, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Class - Race - Gender, Short Stories, United Kingdom, World Lit


The thirteen stories in the collection BULLFIGHTING from Irish author Roddy Doyle examine various aspects of male middle age. Eight of these stories first appeared in New Yorker, and in this volume the post-boom stories collectively offer a wry, bittersweet look at the years past and the years yet to come. We see middle-aged men whose wives have left them, middle-aged men whose children have grown and gone, stale marriages, marriages which have converted lovers into friends, the acceptance of disease and aging, and the ever-looming aspect of mortality. Lest I give the wrong impression, these stories are not depressing–instead through these marvellous stories Doyle argues that middle age brings new experiences and new emotions–just when we thought we’d experienced all that life had to offer.

May 15, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Drift-of-Life, End-of-Life, Ireland, Short Stories, y Award Winning Author

SWIM BACK TO ME by Ann Packer

Ann Packer’s newest book, SWIM BACK TO ME, is comprised of a novella and five short stories. They are all “emotionally searing stories” dealing with issues of intimacy, misunderstandings that cause distancing, betrayals, and the problems that people have with understanding and knowing one another. Each story is strong and brilliant.

May 9, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: California, Coming-of-Age, Literary, Reading Guide, Short Stories

PULSE by Julian Barnes

This lovely passage of a husband at the bedside of his paralyzed wife, who has lost everything except the sense of smell and perhaps hearing, is Barnes at his very best. It is even better in context, for the husband has lost his own sense of smell and cannot even share those memories. It comes from the title story, “Pulse,” printed at the very end of the book, a moving account of a happy marriage contrasted with a troubled one…

May 6, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Short Stories, y Award Winning Author

THE LEMON TABLE by Julian Barnes

One of the things I most enjoy about Julian Barnes is his variety. Each of his books questions the conventional idea of a novel, and each does so in a different way. So I open this collection of eleven short stories expecting an intriguing range of subject and technique, united by a humanity that Barnes has never yet failed to provide. I was not disappointed. This book is as wonderfully written as it is pleasant to hold in the hand, in this beautiful Vintage paperback edition. The range of subjects is indeed large, with scenes of contemporary London alternating with historical stories set in France, Sweden, or Russia. Although all the stories are about twenty pages long, some take place in a single hour, others span a lifetime. They are linked by the common theme of aging, but this should not be a deterrent; few are sad, but rather wry, tender, surprising, or even hysterically funny. Barnes’ range of emotion is as great as his range of style.

May 6, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Short Stories, y Award Winning Author

WIDOW: STORIES by Michelle Latiolais

There is a legend of the thorn bird; as it impales itself and dies, it rises above its own agony to outsing the nightingale and the whole world stills to listen. As humans face death – our own or our most beloved – the best writers have the ability to rise up and eloquently sing. I speak, of course, of Joan Didion in THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING, of Francisco Goldman in SAY HER NAME, of David Vann in LEGEND OF A SUICIDE. And now, Michelle Latiolais takes her place in that very top tier of talented writers.

Ms. Latiolais masterly interweaves stories of life after her husband Paul’s death with other tales: the complex eroticism experienced by a woman visiting a male strip club with her lover, the trials of traveling to Africa with an anthropologist husband who is researching the unusual eating habits of aboriginals, young children who entice an ancient aunt to craft shapes out of moistened bread crumbs. In a few sparse words, she is able to capture a deep and complex emotion.

April 7, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2011 Favorites, Short Stories