Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

"The Guardian short story special" (Weekend, 02.02.08)

Proulx, Julian Barnes, Boyd, Chris Ware (graphics novel), Alice Sebold, and Tessa Hadley. Stories are 2000-2500 words long. Hadley's has 2.5 pages of solid prose. Proulx's is more broken up - of the 6 pages her story occupies, 2 pages are photos, 1 page is ads and there's half a page of white space. Her story's a list of missing persons - incidentally interesting. Boyd's lists things that the narrator's stolen during his life. Barnes' is dinner-party banter, mostly about smoking.

In Sebold's, an adolescent girl is deserted by her family who are fleeing from toxic gas. She eats the pets one by one, then severs her foot for food, binding a dictionary to the stub to help her walk, finally venturing out to a rich person's big greenhouse where she finds survivors with typewriters. It's reported that "literary critics with oxygen tanks" are approaching.

Hadley's is another party with another adolescent girl. At the end she's in her greenhouse at night with a quirky boy. Together they discover that the abandoned well contains water after all ...

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