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The Little Black Book of Stories
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A new collection of Byatt stories is always a winner, and this one takes an unexpected turn....

About the Author

A.S. Byatt is a novelist, short-story writer and critic of international renown. Her novels include Possession (winner of the Booker Prize in 1990), and the Frederica Quartet; The Children's Book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. She was appointed CBE in 1990 and DBE in 1999 and is the recipient of the Erasmus Prize 2016 for her 'inspiring contribution to life writing'.

Reviews

Exiled from wartime London, two little girls think they see something monstrous in the forest, and when they meet again as middle-aged women (both slightly disdainful and slightly disappointed) they try to reconstruct the truth of their vision. A rather glum, self-righteous obstetrician, still struggling with the consequences of his lapsed Catholicism, encounters a waiflike young artist at his hospital and commences a quickie affair that lays bare just how different their values are. A novelist who hasn't amounted to much after his first success and now teaches a bargain-basement writing class encounters a much older woman who really can write. But when he goes to visit her after her first modest publishing success, he finds her horrifically murdered. Byatt demonstrates her formidable skill in this little collection of perfectly rendered pieces. The prose is arresting and memorable, the images linger, getting under your skin. But as a whole these stories are also a little cold-eyed and merciless. They are indeed "black," and some readers might even call them sour. For all literary collections, given Byatt's reputation, though this won't pull in as many readers as Possession. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

From secret agonies to improper desires and the unthinkable, this slyly titled collection touches on more than a little bit of darkness. Booker Prize-winning author Byatt (Possession) masterfully fuses fantasy with realism in several of these stories, packing a punch with her sometimes witty, sometimes horrifying examinations of faith, art and memory. In the stunning "The Thing in the Wood," two young girls, Penny and Primrose, sent to the countryside during the WWII London blitz, confront the unconscious come to life as a monster ("its expression was neither wrath nor greed, but pure misery.... It was made of rank meat, and decaying vegetation"). They return in middle age to face the Thing again, but Penny, a psychotherapist, doesn't fare as well as Primrose, a children's storyteller. A lapsed Catholic gynecologist tries to rescue a starving artist in "Body Art," enacting what Byatt casts as the very obstructiveness of the Church he left behind. It's a chilling story that shines with grace. Byatt's modern-day fairy tale, "A Stone Woman," details a woman's metamorphosis from flesh to stone, which is both terrible and redemptive ("Jagged flakes of silica and nodes of basalt pushed her breasts upward and flourished under the fall of flesh"). In "Raw Material," a creative writing teacher finds inspiration in the work of an elderly student who comes to a gruesome end, the student's life and death imitating bad art very unlike her own. The haunting final story of the collection, "The Pink Ribbon," about a man who is more troubled by remembering than by forgetting as he cares for his Alzheimer's-addled wife, turns on the appearance of the ghost of the wife's former self. With an accomplished balance of quotidian detail and eloquent flights of imagination, Byatt has crafted a powerful new collection. Agent, Peter Matson. (May) Forecast: Gorgeously subdued jacket art, the coy title and Byatt's name should attract considerable browser traffic; expect sales to keep pace. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

These little stories by one of Britain's foremost grandes dames of the writing world are a delightful surprise, packing a much greater punch than many full-length novels... They are moving, thought-provoking, witty and shocking all at once * Sunday Telegraph *
A cabinet of curiosities... Glitteringly beautiful. Byatt is a vivid colourist * Sunday Times *
As ever, Byatt's language has the clear intensity of a poem * Daily Mail *
Byatt is the grande dame of British fiction... Those acquainted with her previous work will recognise her fascination with the supernatural, as well as the erudition and attention to detail that are trademarks of her style * Financial Times *
Each story resembles a novel in miniature-there is a unique, experimental feel to this engaging, unsettling collection that will not hinder the author's reputation as a literary giant * Scotland on Sunday *

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