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The Complete Short Stories [Paperback]

Muriel Spark
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

26 Sep 2002
Muriel Spark is 'a wholly original presence in modern literature' (Andrew Motion). This collection, which contains all her published short stories together with some new writing, amply displays Muriel Spark's extraordinary talent; her cool, biting humour and unique vision of human nature. Ghosts and judges, priests, murder and French châteaux: all the Spark obsessions are here, and much more besides.

Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (26 Sep 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141005971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141005973
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 847,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


These stories are glittering, concise, funny and beautifully written - Telegraph --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Muriel Spark's many novels include THE GIRLS OF SLENDER MEANS, THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE (adapted for film and theatre) and, most recently, AIDING AND ABETTING. She has received many awards, including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Saltire Prize, the Ingersoll T. S. Eliot Award and the David Cohen British Literature Prize in recognition of a lifetime's literary achievement. Muriel Spark lives in Italy.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning fiction from a great writer 30 Dec 2012
The first story I read in this collection was Bang-Bang You're Dead. I would buy the book again just for that.

It's is a sophisticated story for sophisticated readers. At the beginning I was having to re-read each sentence three or four times. The English isn't difficult but the context is. The narrator is at a friend's house watching some old reels of film from her life in South Africa. Many questions played through my mind. How old is the person telling the story? Where is she? How old was she in that film? Who are these friends? Are they close friends or just acquaintances? Gradually, if you're patient, the questions get answered. The reels of film trigger flashbacks and revive old memories. The watchers of the films get one story. We get another.

It's an ambitious technical device and I was thinking that I was going to be very disappointed if the narrator didn't do something special with it and repay the effort I was making to interpret the layers of meaning.

But as the story unfolded I realised before I got to the end that I actually was being treated to something very special indeed. I became engrossed in the story and in the searingly honest character of the narrator. As she began to dissect her emotions and the motivations behind her relationships, I became hooked.

The layered viewpoints and the indirectness of the storytelling are not gratuitous. There are poignant ironies in the story that the narrator couldn't have conveyed any other way.

The tension builds. There is a climax. It's beautifully done. It's astonishingly economical storytelling. Thirty-eight succinct pages hold all the depth and range of a novel.

And then there is one final, crushing, heart-stopping revelation.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complete works 6 Dec 2009
Often macabre and sinister, these stories (many of them ghost stories) date back to the early 1950s; many of them reflect Spark's early days in Africa (a biographical detail of which I was previously unaware). Usually, I dip haphazardly into short stories; but these are grouped by theme, and with hindsight it would have been better to read them in the right order.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 19 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love Muriel Spark's writing, it cleverly combines, wit, brevity and clarity.

I am new to her short stories and don't know the method used to decide the sequence, but the two I've read so far were somewhat similar in tone.

That isn't a criticism as such. I love Spark's style and am looking forward to reading further. These short stories, I think, are best read in between other things.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sting in the tail 30 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Mrs Spark is the BEES KNEES. Not one that doesn't make you sit up and pay attention to what you're being told.
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