Me Before You fans searching for the same emotional intensity should probably look elsewhere, but these stories make for a...

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PARIS FOR ONE AND OTHER STORIES

Moyes (After You, 2015, etc.) explores the lives of unsatisfied women in this collection of short stories and a novella.

In the title novella, a young woman named Nell plans a romantic weekend trip to Paris only to find out that her jerk of a boyfriend made a last-minute decision not to accompany her. Although Nell typically plays it safe, she eventually decides to enjoy her time in Paris alone. Her newfound sense of adventure allows her to enjoy the romance and excitement of the city (and a new man). Most of the short stories here follow a similar format: a woman who is unsatisfied with her relationship stumbles into a new situation or makes an out-of-character decision. One woman runs into an old lover at a party, one wears another woman’s shoes and experiences surprising results, and another ends up involved in a bank robbery. Women try out new identities, styles, and relationships and then either make triumphant changes or realize how wonderful their lives really were in the first place. This leads to a series of stories that can feel a bit homogenous, but Moyes’ engaging writing keeps things enjoyable. While there's nothing earth-shattering in this collection, it’s a pleasant and charming read.

Me Before You fans searching for the same emotional intensity should probably look elsewhere, but these stories make for a diverting treat while waiting for Moyes to write her next tear-jerker.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 9780735221079

Page Count: 239

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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THE THINGS THEY CARRIED

It's being called a novel, but it is more a hybrid: short-stories/essays/confessions about the Vietnam War—the subject that O'Brien reasonably comes back to with every book. Some of these stories/memoirs are very good in their starkness and factualness: the title piece, about what a foot soldier actually has on him (weights included) at any given time, lends a palpability that makes the emotional freight (fear, horror, guilt) correspond superbly. Maybe the most moving piece here is "On The Rainy River," about a draftee's ambivalence about going, and how he decided to go: "I would go to war—I would kill and maybe die—because I was embarrassed not to." But so much else is so structurally coy that real effects are muted and disadvantaged: O'Brien is writing a book more about earnestness than about war, and the peekaboos of this isn't really me but of course it truly is serve no true purpose. They make this an annoyingly arty book, hiding more than not behind Hemingwayesque time-signatures and puerile repetitions about war (and memory and everything else, for that matter) being hell and heaven both. A disappointment.

Pub Date: March 28, 1990

ISBN: 0618706410

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1990

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Readers seeking a tale well told will take pleasure in King’s sometimes-scary, sometimes merely gloomy pages.

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THE BAZAAR OF BAD DREAMS

STORIES

A gathering of short stories by an ascended master of the form.

Best known for mega-bestselling horror yarns, King (Finders Keepers, 2015, etc.) has been writing short stories for a very long time, moving among genres and honing his craft. This gathering of 20 stories, about half previously published and half new, speaks to King’s considerable abilities as a writer of genre fiction who manages to expand and improve the genre as he works; certainly no one has invested ordinary reality and ordinary objects with as much creepiness as King, mostly things that move (cars, kid’s scooters, Ferris wheels). Some stories would not have been out of place in the pulp magazines of the 1940s and ’50s, with allowances for modern references (“Somewhere far off, a helicopter beats at the sky over the Gulf. The DEA looking for drug runners, the Judge supposes”). Pulpy though some stories are, the published pieces have noble pedigrees, having appeared in places such as Granta and The New Yorker. Many inhabit the same literary universe as Raymond Carver, whom King even name-checks in an extraordinarily clever tale of the multiple realities hidden in a simple Kindle device: “What else is there by Raymond Carver in the worlds of Ur? Is there one—or a dozen, or a thousand—where he quit smoking, lived to be 70, and wrote another half a dozen books?” Like Carver, King often populates his stories with blue-collar people who drink too much, worry about money, and mistrust everything and everyone: “Every time you see bright stuff, somebody turns on the rain machine. The bright stuff is never colorfast.” Best of all, lifting the curtain, King prefaces the stories with notes about how they came about (“This one had to be told, because I knew exactly what kind of language I wanted to use”). Those notes alone make this a must for aspiring writers.

Readers seeking a tale well told will take pleasure in King’s sometimes-scary, sometimes merely gloomy pages.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1167-9

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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