November reading round-up

I decided that November would be short story month. I like short stories, and they are good for times when it’s hard to concentrate on reading, or on anything really, such as now. ‘Sudden traveller’ by Sarah Hall was perfect. Dense vivid prose, some very dark stories, some very beautiful stories, and all really emotionally intense. I rarely get excited about contemporary writers, but she seems pretty special.

From ‘the queen of dark short fiction’ according to The Guardian, to a couple of old masters – Alice Munro, who left me cold, and William Maxwell: warmer, but a bit sleepy. Also the Penguin Book of Contemporary British Short Stories, which I summed up in a one-word review on my Goodreads. That word was ‘Meh.’  

So far, so November.

But then… ‘All the devils are here’ knocked my hygge winter socks off. Not short stories, but I make the rules here. Disturbing psychogeographical meanderings in the the seamy underworld of end-of-the-road coastal Kent, where ‘The wasteland’ meets the News of the World. It’s as bleak and salaciously unputdownable as that suggests. My read of the month.

If you’ve got this far, dear reader, you may perhaps be interested to know that I read partly to try and find a way into writing myself, or at least I have been this year. I’ve had to concede that I don’t have what it takes for a novel. I thought short stories might be my thing – hence this short story binge to test that idea out. However… ‘All the devils are here’ was a revelation and signposts a way forward form-wise. (I mention this only thinking that if I put it out here, there’s slightly more chance I might do it…)