Canadian author Kim Fu provides 12 entertaining, oft challenging and daring stories in her latest award-winning collection (Feb. 2022, 232 pages).
She does a skillful job of taking extraordinary circumstances, such as a tween girl sprouting wings and turning that into a believable rite of passage. In another, a Bridezilla meets a sea monster and what follows is a witty commentary on social expectations and ecological consequences.
All the stories blur the lines between reality and the fantastic, and the weird and mundane, all while shining a spotlight on human contradictions concerning sexuality, death, guilt and technology.
As a result, all prove memorable for different reasons, making this collection one of the few worth reading in its entirety.
AWARDS: An NPR, Book Riot, Chicago Public Library, Tor.com, South China Morning Post, Ms. Magazine, and Shelf Awareness Best Book of 2022; 2023 Pacific Northwest Book Prize Winner; Time Magazine Top 10 Fiction Book of 2022
Do you like very short stories that close the curtain before you fully know the resolution? Do you like real-life mundane events rendered slightly haunting? Do you like that odd pit in your stomach when something slightly horrifying is delivered in a naive and innocent voice? I think you'll like Silvina Ocampo's translated short stories anthology Forgotten Journey.
The stories are from another time (late 19th and early 20th century) and place (Argentina?) and the characters generally reflect that. I feel as though I got a (distorted) glimpse into the lives of a variety of characters -- well-off and poor, urbane and rural, altruistic and self-serving -- sometimes a mix of all of these from one scene to the next. I particularly enjoyed the creative and evocative descriptions -- one that sometimes evokes the banalest of objects or environments into a fantastically peculiar observer of the eccentricities of people.
Anyway, I'm grateful that PPLD has books like these, and I plan to explore more of Ocampo's and her contemporaries' oeuvre.
The novel “Candide” is a satire on the philosophy of optimism given by German philosopher Wilhelm Leibniz. The concept of Optimism suggests that everything is going to end well in this best world. It was written by Voltaire, one of the most famous and well-read novelists in the world. The word "Candide" means an innocent, simple, and kind-hearted person. The protagonist of the novel traverses across the world and comes across many disasters and faces many hurdles. Pangloss defends optimism by saying that everything happens in this best world for a reason, and it doesn't matter whether it is good or deplorable.
The story opens with Candide, who lives in a noble castle. In the beginning, he is a strong believer of his master's optimism. But as the story proceeds on, Candide gradually begins to doubt in optimism when he is expelled from his castle for loving the daughter of the Baron. After that, another incident happens as the Bulgarians attack the castle of Baron and burn it to the ground, and they massacre all the ladies and children without mercy. After having seen all this, Candide is forced to say that if this world is the best, then why are all these disasters happening to those who don't deserve to be punished? Optimism is useful, and he calls it
"The mania of maintaining that everything is well when we are wretched."
After being expelled from his hometown, he enters the country of Eldorado and receives a very warm welcome from the people of this country. Here, the people nature lover, and their behaviour towards guests is very good and polite. This place is full of beautiful, prodigious mountains, green fields, people love each other, and Candide falls in love with this place. They are with four soups and two roasted monkeys for dinner without taking money. Candide thinks Pangloss was right: all is for the best. The dilemma of Candide about optimism goes on throughout the novel.
Candide offers us some significant themes. Let’s discuss those one by one. On many occasions, the cruelty of people can also be clearly seen in this book. For instance, on his way to Suriname, he sees a physically impaired negro. Candide asks him who did to you?, and the negro replies that we are given only a pair of cotton drawers as clothing twice an year. We work in sugar mills, and when we are tired of working and try to run away or refuse to work, they (white men) cut our legs and hands. We pay this price for the sugar you eat in Europe. His sorrows wrench us when he says animals are also less miserable than we are and he questions we too are human beings and the children of Adam, then why are we treated so horribly?
The tale of an old woman is also very painful. She is the daughter of Pop Urban X and the princess of Palestrina. She is a beautiful lass of honour with blue eyes and curly hair. While she is travelling with her mother to another place named Gaeta, they are attacked and captured by a Salle pirate. It is not easy for a princess to be taken with her mother as a slave to Morocco. She is still a virgin, but doesn't remain long. The flower that was reserved for the Prince of Massa Carrara is now perished by a negro who thinks he is doing her a great honour. Her mother and other women are raped and torn into pieces by these scoundrels.
Candide is a kind of character that shows we should not lose hope or impulse to reach our destination. For instance, Candide is kicked out of his castle because of his love for Cunegonde, whom he adores so much. then it is also reported that Cunegonde is dead, but he doesn't believe it, and after struggling for a long time, he finds her again and loses her again, but at last he marries his buff because he was determined to find her and never gave up.
The same whimsy is highlighted by Mian Muhammad Bakhsh in his tale “ Saif ul Malook”. The prince falls in love with a fairy named “Badi u Jamal”and sees her in his dreams. He sets out on a journey to find her, even though he doesn't know where she lives. His determination leads him to his fairy.
Giving power to someone over others makes people evil. The person to whom you give power will begin using it against others. As Shakespeare says:
"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
With great power there also comes great responsibility. According to the testimony of philosophers, exalted rank is very dangerous. For example, Eglon, the king of Moabites, was murdered by Ehud, and kings like Zedekiah and Jeconiah were made slaves. They all were perished because they had used their power for dark purposes. At the end of the day,
"We have to cultivate our garden.” (Voltaire)
Men are never contented with what they have, and their greed is unlimited. I think Tolstoy was right.
"Men are greedy by their nature."
After becoming the Prince of Persia, Candide rewards significant scientists and literary but they are still not satisfied and happy. Candide is quite with human nature and knows that men will never be satisfied with whatever they get because of their greedy nature, which cannot be changed easily.
In short, Candide is a master piece of Voltaire, and effects its readers deeply. Before reading it, I was desperate to know Voltaire's view on optimism. I enjoyed it a lot and might read it again because of its readable and diverse meaning under the layers.
The Things They Carried is a modern necessity. A series of stories and reflections follow the journey of a hypothetical O'Brien and his squad as they 'hump' through the mountains and forests of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. The book plays with the ideas of reality and storytelling, and forces readers to construct a robust and complex understanding of the stories of war and the life after. At points, it becomes almost impossible to discern between reality and falsities, and the book itself is an intellectual journey. The stories tell the seemingly exciting and eventful moments of the war, but put a special emphasis on the trauma and shocking notes of the war. O'Brien contrasts each element with an essential counterpart: excitement with terror, nonfiction with fiction; storytelling with teaching. It's this contrasting of truths that makes The Things They Carried a staple on any bookshelf, and a read worthy of any audience.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is a collection of nine short stories about cultural differences. In each of the nine stories, the beautifully composed characters are taken through inspirational journeys, whether conflicts about romance, communication, cultural differences between India and America, or separation. Not all endings are happy, but a lesson can be learned from each story. It is a must-read book that challenges cultural differences and will transform a mindful reader's perspective. Overall, I would rate the book five out of five stars.
Something I feel is underappreciated in book series is when authors don't try to cram in as much material and side stories as possible to pad each of the books to be longer than they should be. Keeping the core books of a series concise helps drive the main plot forward without requiring larger and larger volumes to tie up all the loose ends introduced along the way. The Lunar Chronicles excels in this. Look no further than the "prequel," Fairest, and the collection of short stories and epilogue that is Stars Above for proof of this restraint.
I can appreciate that worldbuilding will often create so much content that it doesn't always make sense to include it in the actual storytelling. Still, some origin stories might seem interesting, only to find out that most of these moments of exposition happened along the way as the character's motives are revealed to the reader. Ergo, some stories don't need to be told. Stars Above has some stories like this, but it also contains a few worth reading, the best of which is the pseudo-epilogue to the Lunar Chronicles.
With so many different fairy tales to pull from into the Lunar Chronicles, I'm glad that Marissa Meyer had some restraint in recognizing when some of them wouldn't work with the main narrative of Cinder's rise to claim her rightful throne. The "Little Mermaid" story in this collection works on its own, but I would find myself hard-pressed to see how it would add anything to the overarching plot of the Lunar Chronicles without reworking the whole thing. Even so, it's a good story that any fan of this series will likely enjoy.
Some necessary (and not so necessary) short stories that round out the Lunar Chronicles, I give Stars Above 3.5 stars out of 5.
In plague struck Italy around the 1350s, 3 young adult boys and 7 teenage girls as well as their servants hide out in various castles while telling each other stories to pass the time. Each of them has to tell one story per day. For each day there is a new theme decided by the"ruler" of that day. These themes include; Misadventures with happy endings,Tragic loves, Bawdy loves, Munificence, and Avoiding Misfortune with witty remarks.
Though this is a good and classic book it is not for everyone due to it having mature sexual themes, so if you do not like such things either dont read this book or stick to the days that arent about things like those... also watch out for Dioneo's stories because he can say a story on whatever he likes. Alltogether a good book if not for everyone.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien horrifically recalls Tim’s time during war, in what he calls “A true war story that isn't real”. This book recreates the experiences O’Brien went through during wartime, and is written in a very grotesque manner. The story jumps around from timeline to timeline, in a way that a lot of the time you aren't sure what perspective you’re reading from. While written very well, O’Brien has a habit of making every character seem like a horrific person and puts himself on kind of a metaphorical pedestal, in what seems to be an attempt to reconcile with the guilt he faced from the atrocities committed by him and his platoon. I would definitely recommend this book to others, despite its faults, but I believe the most important thing to know going into this book is that the events described are so grotesque they seem like made up fantasies or true stories that have been modified to seem worse than they actually are, which is part of O’Briens intention of telling the story the way he remembers it happening, not the way that it actually happened.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson is a novel about a scientist in London, Dr. Jekyll, that has the misfortune of having to control and mask his alter identity, Mr. Hyde. After some unfortunate events partake, others begin to realize that the wise Dr. Jekyll has an alter identity. This novel has an unpredictable ending that left me stunned. I thought that the book was really good due to the continuously moving plot and the amazing characters that create a wonderous mystery throughout the book. I was required to read this book for school and I would definitely recommend it for readers that are in middle school and beyond that enjoy a great science fiction or mystery novel. Reviewer Grade: 9
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a novel about a scientist in London, Dr. Jekyll, who struggles with controlling his alter ego, Mr. Hyde. As he attempts to mask his other personality, horrifying events occur that present the horrible personality of Mr. Hyde. Other citizens begin to discover the connection between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as the novel finishes with a jaw dropping climax and resolution. I was required to read this book for school and I would recommend it for readers middle school and above. I really enjoyed the progression of the plot and the ending that was unpredictable. Reviewer Grade: 9
Look Both Ways By Jason Reynolds is a ten different short stories about kids walking home from school. The ten stories are woven together by the context of a school bus falling from the sky. But no one knows because they were all too busy with their lives. In ten different walks home from school, Look Both Ways captures the humor, poetry, and liveliness encompassing middle school and early high school life. It also explores seeing two sides or more of the same perspective. For example, the ‘bad kid’ may be good-hearted. I think the book was masterfully put together and woven ten stories seamlessly together. This book made me laugh, hope, cry, and believe. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book with 5 out of 5 stars.
After reading Exhalation , I found myself in search of more stories by Ted Chiang. This led me to Stories of Your Life and Others. Partly because this collection included many of Chiang’s earlier stories, not all of them were great pieces of literature like the ones in Exhalation. I could tell that Chiang was still trying to find his voice as a writer as he explored many science fiction topics common to the genre. While not all of the stories are fantastic, there are enough good ones to warrant reading this collection.
What’s a little disappointing is how some of the ideas Chiang explores in this book are truly interesting topics, but the execution of these stories feels a little too erudite for the common reader. I appreciate Chiang’s later ability to humanize these ideas (as shown by my love of Exhalation), but he just wasn’t quite there yet with these early works. Still, there are a handful of award-winning stories in this book, including “Tower of Babylon” and “Hell Is the Absence of God.” Chiang’s ability to combine science and religion is second to none, and these stories prove as much.
One story in this book stands out from the rest. It makes sense that “Story of Your Life” was the titular choice for this book. For those unaware, the movie Arrival (2016) is based on this short story (and is a pretty close adaptation). Even if you only read “Story of Your Life,” I think you’ll get something out of this collection. It is by far the most approachable of these stories, and it deserved all of the awards bestowed upon it when it was originally published in the late 1990s.
A good collection of Ted Chiang’s early works that contains a few sparkling gems, I give Stories of Your Life and Others 4.0 stars out of 5.
A boy is trying to get home by train, but he ends up on a strange platform with no one around and no idea when the next train is coming so he can get home. A man suddenly appears and sits with the boy, telling him rather strange stories while they wait.
This book is a collection of short stories that revolve around a bigger story. All of the stories are creepy and mysterious. If you are the kind of person who likes to be creeped out just a little, but would still like to sleep at night, this book is for you. I am not a huge horror fan, but I could not put this book down. I found this book in the kids section (the little ghost sticker on the binding intrigued me, so I thought I would give it a try) so this could be the reason I found it more bearable and less creepy than other books of that genre. No matter what grade, if you are looking for a spooky book, you should give The Wrong Train a try (unless you find it not scary at all, in this case I suggest you read it anyway because it's still pretty good.)
Reviewer Grade: 10
After turning into a bug, Gregor realizes he is late for work. However, it soon becomes apparent that Gregor will no longer be able to work. His family's view of him quickly changes as his previous contributions to it are quickly forgotten. This thought provoking book questions people's worth after they are lo longer able to contribute to society. Although the writing style is dry, the book is filled with allegories and symbolism that comment on the nature of individuals in society. This leaves readers to examine their own views on an individual's worth to society.
I read this book because I watched the movie “1408” which is based on the short story by Stephen King thats in “Everything’s Eventual” and I wanted to see if the book was as good as the movie. Everything’s Eventual is a book that’s full of short story’s, and while I didn’t like a few, there was also a couple really good ones! I would highly recommend one of the short story’s called “The Road Virus Heads North”. It has actually become one of my favorite Stephen King stories. Also, I personally thought it was one of his creepiest. Overall, if you are a big Stephen King fan like me, I would recommend reading this book.
Those of us who have seen Netflix’s adaptation of The Witcher will find this collection of short stories quite familiar. The first book in the series, The Last Wish introduces the titular Witcher, Geralt of Rivia, as he goes about his job ridding the world of dangerous supernatural creatures. It’s no wonder the TV series felt a little disjointed, as it had a series of short stories that were loosely connected via Geralt to work with. Still, these stories are solid and help flesh out the world where humans and creatures live together, rarely in harmony.
Told in a somewhat chronological manner, these bite-size stories often carry over and blend into each other in a way that feels natural. Actions in one story may influence the characters in another, so there is something deeper here than just a collection of short stories. While this technique is rarely used, I can appreciate how each story has a purpose in advancing the main character's overall story. That being said, not every story is as enthralling as trying to save a noble’s daughter from a curse (which was one of the best in the set).
Part of why I like this method of storytelling is how simple it is. There’s no huge overarching and complex series of events here. The only character that matters is Geralt and how he reacts to the people around him and the jobs he takes to pay the bills. While additional characters like Yennefer or Ciri help to round out the series, focusing on the series’ namesake is important for building a foundation for world-building. I almost wish more series would take this route, as it helps establish the lore before diving into the first “official” book's main plot.
Great character foundation through multiple short stories, I give The Last Wish 3.5 stars out of 5.
My librarian uncle introduced me to Ted Chiang recently, and I was so intrigued by such an award-winning author who wrote exclusively in short stories that I had to check out one of his books. Exhalation is a collection of these stories, and I can see why Chiang is lauded as a writer. It seems that modern science fiction is too focused on new technologies and how they can lead to utopias or dystopias. In Chiang’s stories, I saw some stark realism that took well-tread topics of the genre and examined them through a lens that was extremely realistic to how society would function with such advancements.
It was refreshing—a sigh of fresh air, or exhalation, if you will—to read stories about parallel universes, artificial intelligence, and time travel that didn’t stick to the same tropes that have made science fiction almost boring in comparison. In the end, Chiang is so concise with his language as to create these universes anchored in our reality and uncover all the intricate ways in which new technologies would change it without delving into the fluff of a full-blown novel. And perhaps that’s what makes these short stories work: focusing on how people interact with new technology, instead of just society at large.
These stories' personal nature hits home, mostly because they were pulled from current technologies and extrapolated into the fringe sciences that are on the cutting edge. For instance, we already record much of our days, so how does our memory change if we have a perfect record of the past? Additionally, how many technologies are made widely available as entertainment first, and how many interest groups pop up as fans of these technologies until they are eventually made obsolete? These and many other thoughtful topics are only some of the reasons I would recommend any fan of true sci-fi read this book.
A collection of some of the best sci-fi stories I’ve ever read, I give Exhalation 5.0 stars out of 5.
5 out of 5 stars the action and plot and the is so interesting . All the climax adding up then exploding with action . Montesor"s revenge and hate for Fortunato really driving him to kill him . Fortunato's ego get him killed because he want to prove he was better that another wine taster .And the ending just puts the cherry on top on everything when Montresor say no one has disturbed the body in 50 years
This is the best jail break story ever! I loved this short story when i read it in "Different Seasons". I read this book after seeing the movie, and I love both of them! Its about a guy named Andy Dufresne who is sentenced to life at Shawshank for the murder of his wife and her lover. In prison, he meets Red, a guy who knows how to get things. They become good friends. Andy always said he was innocent, and after being there for almost 20 years he escapes. It's a really really good story and I would highly recommend this book to anyone!
This is definitely my favorite book! It's basically a coming of age story about four 12-year-old boys. They go on an adventure to find a body as the title suggests. However, despite the dark name, and the fact that the author is Stephen King, this book is not horror by any means. Reading this book, you feel like you're going on an adventure with Chris, Gordie, Teddy, and Vern. I would also highly recommend the movie that was based upon the book, Stand By Me. All in all I would recommend that anyone should read this book, it's an amazing story!!