November 29, 2010

Perfect Lives - Polly Samson

I wasn't much of a short story reader before I began blogging and I'm not sure if it is the blogging itself that has made me take the leap into this genre or more so the great recommendations I get from reading other bloggers experiences with short fiction.

I first read about Perfect Lives over at Dovegreyreader and her review tempted me to pick up my own copy of this collection. Unlike Dovegreyreader though I greedily read through these stories one after the other - I just couldn't bring myself to put them down and leave the English seaside village.

Perfect Lives reminded me a lot of Olive Kitteridge in terms of its structure - it is a collection of short stories but all of the stories are based on characters living in a particular village in the English countryside so that a peripheral character you meet in one story might become one of the main character's in another story and so on so that there is an interwoven community of characters and story lines created.

My favourite stories of the collection were the first story in the book, "The Egg", whose revelation part way through actually made me gasp out loud and "Ivan Knows" which focuses on a little boys infatuation with and adoration of his babysitter. But having chosen favourites I now feel sad for the other stories that did not get chosen - as they were so very wonderful too and certainly not lacking in detail and emotion. I think with short stories in particular there is a strong instinctual feeling about what you connect with as a reader - there is a such a skill in being able to capture and hold the attention of your audience in such a brief period. I will now be going back to find Polly Samson's first short story collection - and hope that she writes another one very quickly!


Joan Hunter Dunn said...

I love short stories, I think of them as perfect holiday reads. I especially love ones where the characters overlap. I shall store this away for the next holiday.

I liked reading your 'Saturday' review. It reminded me of when my father had finished reading it and his one comment was "I liked the brain surgery."

Karen said...

Hi Joan - I'm starting to become a fan of the short story now - books like this definitely help! I love your father's response to Saturday too!

Anonymous said...

I hope you find that first short story collection. I read it, a long time ago now, and was very impressed.And now you and Dovegreyreader between you have inspired me to order this one.

Karen said...

Hi fleur - I hope you end up loving it as much as we both did!

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