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Archive by tag: Ben EastReturn
Jun 26, 2022

A lyrical, witty novel of the US south, a great Italian writer’s mountain detective story, and the history of a controversial cycling champion

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
4th Estate, £9.99, pp816 (paperback)

To order The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois, Impossible or Jan Ullrich go to guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply

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Apr 12, 2022

Interviews with authors bolster their short stories in this impressive collection from a new publisher

This fascinating first anthology from new independent publisher Scratch Books features seven short stories alongside author interviews, with editor Tom Conaghan posing questions about openings and endings, inspirations and drafts.

For Chris Power, the short story’s brevity means a reader is suspended in tension for the duration of the tale, the greatest endings, he suggests, exerting a kind of breathlessness – either from a “punch in the gut” twist or a release of pressure.

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Mar 27, 2022

Embracing the twists and turns of everyday American life, the author’s latest short story collection is playful, gripping and disturbing

Joyce Carol Oates’s multitudinous collections are repeatedly subtitled “tales of suspense” or “stories of mystery”. You tend to know what you’re getting with an Oatesian short – a disquieting snapshot of American life on the verge of individual or ideological collapse – and these nine additions to her oeuvre don’t disappoint.

The first, Detour, is a classic of its type. A diversion forces a woman down a forest road, she wrecks her car and, looking for help, ends up a befuddled prisoner in an isolated house. The set-up is cliched to the point of being arch, but Oates brilliantly toys with our understanding of a confused mental state.

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Jan 30, 2022

A semi-autobiographical novel of trauma and addiction offers hope for narrator, author and reader

That the narrator and author of this Florida-set debut share a name is no coincidence. This is raw, semi-autobiographical fiction at its most painfully honest, which could only have been written from actual experience of a teenage descent into addiction, criminality and young offender institutions.

The first traps laid for the 14-year-old David, who’s run away from home to hook up with a girl, are appalling; he’s plied with crack by an old man at a bus stop and subsequently abused. What swiftly follows is the chaos of a desperate search for drugs, interspersed with rehab, reflection and reoffending. The total absence of plot makes All Day Is a Long Time feel more like a memoir.

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