The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories
This anthology is in many was a 'best of the best', containing gems from thirty-four of Britain's outstanding contemporary writers. It is a book to dip into, to read from cover to cover, to lend to friends and read again. It includes stories of love and crime, stories touched with comedy and the supernatural, stories set in London, Los Angeles, Bucharest and Tokyo. Above all, as you will discover, it satisfies Samuel Butler's anarchic pleasure principle: 'I should like to like Schumann's music better than I do; I daresay I could make myself like it better if I tried; but I do not like having to try to make myself like things; I like things that make me like them at once and no trying at all...'
therapeutic value in my stay. God knows I ought to know, I shall never recover in this place, isolated as I am from Primrose who, whatever you may say, I want with all my heart to make my wife. It was with the greatest of anguish that I discovered that her letters to me were being opened, finally, even having to hear lectures on her moral character by those who had read these letters, which I had thus been prevented from replying to, causing such pain to her as I cannot think of. This separation
touch them; they stare at him. Once he asks Miss Armfelt, but she tells him dates are a fake ritual, part of the heterosexual conformity she repudiates. For safety’s sake, then, William redirects his emotional ambitions; he has an affair with a graduate girl, also teaching freshmen composition. Strangely, it seems that some diminution of sexual attractiveness is an entry qualification for graduate school. Miss Daubernethy is not like the co-eds; she is tough and fairly charmless, a dark girl with
striking midnight. Pepita, feeling Arthur release her arm with an abruptness that was the inverse of passion, shivered; whereat he asked brusquely: ‘Cold? Well, Which way? – we’d better be getting on.’ Callie was no longer waiting up. Hours ago she had set out the three cups and saucers, the tins of cocoa and household milk and, on the gas-ring, brought the kettle to just short of the boil. She had turned open Arthur’s bed, the living-room divan, in the neat inviting way she had learnt at home –
see, and I know that an out-of-the-way village is so dead. No culture. The same in Toomin, no? Absolutely no culture at all. Everybody dead.’ The Australian wife looks – seemingly for the first time – straight at my wife. ‘We’re outdoor people.’ I remember now. A river used to flow through the Toomin Valley. Torrential in the rainy season, they said. It dried up in the early ’forties. One or two sparse willows remain, grey testimony to the long-ago existence of water-rich soil. I imagine the
temperament. No – not a collaborator at all. He was a nice man; he was my friend. He was very intelligent, I remember, and just as despairing as me, but somehow more cynical in his mind. Perhaps I don’t mean cynical – perhaps I just mean he had a sense of humour. I chose silence and exile; he chose cunning. ‘You know what they call wedding-cake architecture?’ I nodded. I’d seen quite enough of it on my few brief trips to Eastern Europe. ‘Well, the very worst examples you can see – outside