Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical

I was lucky enough to meet Rob Shearman at the Edge Hill Prize award ceremony. He signed a copy of his collection Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical for me and even drew a dalek for my boys.

I'm supposed to be writing the theoretical part of my MA manuscript at the moment, but I thought I'd just have a peep at the first story in Rob's collection - I had to keep reading. Here's my goodreads review:

 Love Songs for the Shy and CynicalLove Songs for the Shy and Cynical by Robert Shearman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This collection starts with 'Love Among the Lobelias', a very funny story involving the devil as a romantic fiction author. The next story, 'Roadkill' is touching, funny, creepy and ultimately ambiguous. 'Sweet Nothings', the story of a love-sick pig in the garden of Eden has everything I look for in a short story: tenderness, humour, originality and surprise. 'Pang' provides creepy/surreal/every-day contrasts and the grotesque ending is satisfying in a way that surprised me.

I read 'This Creeping Thing' during my children's new-fangled, everyone's-a-winner, let's-play-team-games, sports day. 'This Creeping Thing' is a wonderful story about love, loss, wishing and being haunted by memories of the people/animals we love. Some of the teachers noticed that I was reading and waved at me to stop. One of my children howled put that book down at me while he was waiting in a queue to retrieve bean bags from under a parachute. I did look up when the children were "competing" (I use the word in its loosest possible sense) but I kept reading at all other times. I would recommend the collection to other parents stuck in similar circumstances!

I've continued to read just a story or two each day. These stories are like expensive chocolates, they shouldn't be gobbled, they need to be savoured and appreciated. I'm not going to write about every story - there's only so many times I can allow myself to write 'tender', 'funny', 'creepy', 'surprising', 'strange' etc etc. I agree with Steven Hall's introduction: 'You'll find heartbreaking humanity nestling quietly on every page.'
I can see myself reading many of Shearman's stories again, something I don't do very often.

View all my reviews >>

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