I love short stories unutterably, but they often prove the most complex to review.
Books make the most thoughtful presents. Here are some of my favourites I’ve read this year, either before I started this blog, or books I couldn’t squeeze into the running ‘Book of the Month’ feature.
Short stories are my absolute favourite form of literature (and writing – joint with poetry!). Utterly cluttered are the marginalia of every short story I consume/inhale. The gentle and explosive rhythm of the narrative; the way the plot unravels in the story; the twist potential; the preoccupation with time and the ability to give the impression of time expanding as the story is contracting; the heavy, heady significance of every carefully chosen word; the fact that you can be absorbed in several stories within an hour of reading…
Marilyn Monroe was frequently very late to arrive when filming on set. So it may come as a surprise that she explicitly told herself, in her list of New Year’s Resolutions for the year 1956, that there are ‘No excuses for ever being late’. She was 29 years old at the time and had starred in many successful films (The Seven Year Itch for example) and she had just been accepted as a student at a renowned drama school in New York called the Actors’ Studio. Judging by her other resolutions (‘Work whenever possible’) she was clearly very driven and committed to try and continue her success as an actress.
My favourite word of the moment is ‘Mountweazel’. My curious fingertips stumbled across this short article in the New Yorker from 2005 which explains Mountweazels more succinctly than I ever could. Did you know that dictionaries often add in fictitious words as a copyright trap? The article states that the 2005 edition of the New Oxford American Dictionary contains a made-up word beginning with ‘E’ and a shortlist of six possible Mountweazels surfaced and the list was sent to various lexicography experts and they (correctly) agreed that the word ‘esquivalience’ was the imposter (I admit, of the list, that’s not the one I would have chosen!). I summoned my Dictionary programme that lies in the dock area of my Mac and typed in ‘esquivalience’ and there lies a definition consistent with the false entry from the NOAD:
Sarah Waters is a brilliant story teller. We’re in Camberwell in 1922 for her latest novel The Paying Guests. Our protagonist is Frances Wray, a spinster in her mid-twenties who lives with her mother in their large house. They have divided it up to rent out some of the rooms to a young married couple, Mr and Mrs Barber, to help pay for the running of the property. So far, so straightforward.
You will have heard of Letters of Note. It has been an online sensation that has divulged the secret thoughts of significant figures in history by publishing their clandestine letters. A collection of otherwise undisclosed feelings and ideas between fascinating characters and interesting people. Now there’s a book, a beautiful, illustrated, hardback book.