short stories

Neither thumbs up nor thumbs down for Taras Bulba and Other Tales by Nikolai Gogol. Short stories.

“Taras Bulba” – an adventure novella about the father and two sons of a Cossack family – is a fun historical swashbuckler which does a fine job of evoking a time and place: the landscape, the culture, the individuals. This is, mind you, assuming you can overlook the rampant anti-Semitism and various other bigotries, which were so pervasive that even I – used to putting up with a lot of offensive stuff in old books – found it difficult to squint past.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for The Essential Tales of Chekhov by Anton Chekhov. Literature.

From the introduction by Richard Ford:

Far from his stories’ ever sinking to typicality or being knowable by a scheme, Chekhov seems so committed to life’s multifariousness that the stories provoke in us the sensation Ford Madox Ford must have had in mind when he observed that the general effect of fiction “must be the effect life has on mankind”—by which I’ve always thought he meant that it be persuasively important, profuse, irreducible in its ambiguities, full of diverse pleasures, and always on the brink of being unknowable except that our ordering intelligence ardently urges us toward clarity.

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Jagannath

Thumbs down for Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck. Science fiction/fantasy short stories.

I really wanted to like these stories; foremost I chose to read this anthology to explore some Swedish science fiction, but also, I won’t lie, the cover is just fantastic. The stories themselves made almost no impact on me. “Rebecka” had a nice frisson of a twist to it; “Aunts” was gross but interesting; but there was only one story that stuck in my head, “Augusta Prima.” It reminds me of Saki.… >> Read more

Thumbs up for Collected Fiction by Hannu Rajaniemi. Science fiction and fantasy short stories.

It’s rare that I read a book from the library and it’s so good that before I’ve even finished it, I’ve ordered a hardback because I need my own copy. This is even more astonishing when you consider that I generally dislike short stories and avoid short story collections like the plague.… >> Read more