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Instruction Manual for Swallowing Mass Market Paperback – 23 Nov 2007

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Comma Press (23 Nov. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905583044
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905583041
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,543 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam Marek is the award winning author of two short story collections: Instruction Manual For Swallowing and The Stone Thrower - both published by Comma Press in the UK and ECW Press in North America.

He won the 2011 Arts Foundation Short Story Fellowship, and was shortlisted for the inaugural Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award and the Edge Hill Short Story Prize.

His stories have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Prospect and The Sunday Times Magazine, and The Best British Short Stories 2011 and 2013. He also teaches creative writing for the Arvon Foundation.

Visit Adam online at www.adammarek.co.uk

'Tales as playful and emotionally resonant as they are disturbing...delightful.'
The Guardian

'Adam Marek is one of the best things to have happened to the short story this century. His stories might be strange, delicious or haunting - but they're always compelling. Any day now the word "Marekian" is going to enter the language. Get in on the act early. Read him now.'
Alison MacLeod

'...this bold young writer is refreshing the form.'
Financial Times

Product Description

Review

'There's a transgressive thrill to Adam Marek's debut collection of short stories that's not simply a result of the potency of the subject matter... delightful.' --The Guardian

'Early McEwan meets David Cronenberg.... genuine, unsettling talent.' --The Independent

'Marek's fabulously meaty, funny writing makes the short story look really exciting again, pulling you, frame by frame, into a bright, strange future.' --Maggie Gee

About the Author

***WINNER of the 2011 Arts Foundation Fellowship in Short Story Writing*** **Short-Listed for the 2010 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award** *Long-listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize* Adam Marek was born in 1974. His stories have appeared in Prospect magazine, New Writing 15 edited by Maggie Gee and Bernardine Evaristo, The Bridport Prize Anthology (2003 and 2005), Parenthesis, The New Uncanny, When It Changed edited by Geoff Ryman, and on-line at Pulp.net. In 2007, his story 'Testicular Cancer vs the Behemoth' was performed by Ian Hart (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Dirt) at the WordTheatre event in London. His first full collection, Instruction Manual for Swallowing was published by Comma Press in 2007. He has since contributed short stories to Comma's anthologies The New Uncanny (2008) and When It Changed (2009) and has published a second short story collection, The Stone Thrower. He lives in Bedfordshire with his wife and sons.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ms. L. Gibson on 27 Nov. 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm a big fan of JG Ballard. His short stories captivate my imagination; a recognisable world that suddenly twists, normal people go off-course and get caught up in major terrorist plots, crime, and strange internal or future worlds. So I was pleasantly surprised on picking up this book that Adam Marek takes the reader into a realm that strikes resonances both thematically and stylistically with Ballard and other authors such as Paul Auster and Douglas Coupland.

The stories are addictive and instantly readable, the first is about a man who goes to buy a new pet for his girlfriend and enters a closed and suffocating world of the pet shop owner who measures his animals in litres, and prizes his 40-litre monkey beyond anything else. Another that had me laughing out-loud and genuinely crying was the bizarre yet somehow poignant tale of Brendan and Doris, and their extreme multiple birth (37 babies to be precise). All of the characters are recognisable, their traits, their thoughts, their flaws. It is the extraordinary circumstances in which they find themselves that bring the stories to life.

As I travel to work by train, this book was ideal - the stories last just long enough for the journey, or are perfect pre-sleep wind down. But what really got me is that they stay with you. I keep thinking about the man that tried to find his sub-conscious, or how the loss of one of the babies made such a mark on Brendan. I've read another book since and these stories are still there, filtering through and making me think about how we make sense of our selves in what can be a really strange world.

I'd recommend this book, it should be celebrated for being a really good collection of short stories. It's not about them being easier or quicker to read because they're short, they work like this - it's how they should be. That said, if Marek does write a novel it'd go straight on my Wish List.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love this book. When I was young I was a big Roald Dahl fan, and I still am. Marek's stories reminded me a great deal of Dahl - they are very funny, and they are very grotesque.

My favourite story is The Thorn. A young boy gets a splinter in his toe, which his gran and grandad help him to remove and I'll tell you something - it ain't a thorn. I writhed while reading this one, Marek's writing is sublime and I felt the young boy's pain.

My favourite thing about this collection of short stories is that, unlike Dahl, they read as fact. Marek makes every idea seem believable, without a hint that these ideas should be nonsense. Name me one person who hasn't lived in a giant centipede's lair, or gestated 37 babies.

I have to say, everytime I came to the end of a story and saw the final paragraph in sight, I was gutted. This book is brilliant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER on 22 Jun. 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
'Instruction Manual For Swallowing', Adam Marek's first collection, appeared in 2007. It gathers fourteen stories, of which a handful have appeared in anthologies and magazines.

Marek is still a relatively young writer, but was already in his thirties when this book appeared, and had developed a consistent voice. Typically, the tone is straightforward, even flat: there are no verbal fireworks, and Marek's narrators are ordinary people with no special powers of understanding - though they encounter others who are less predictable.

Marek decants some of these people into situations in which ordinary life, with its sushi bars and iPods and art galleries, is transformed by an eruption of the bizarre. Some find themselves subject to cartoonish social torments. Others inhabit nightmarish parallel or future worlds, in which they labour against grotesque odds to perform a version of normality. Little is explained.

Adam Marek is writing about our world, with its familiar gadgets and cultural memes, but his stories range further: they are not limited in imagination to the hermetically-sealed world of the metropolitan middle-class. Nor is Marek frightened of being thought low-brow for treating themes more familiar from SF and fantasy than from literary fiction.

On the other hand, I found none of these stories particularly memorable. The best seem to aspire to something like Kafka's atmosphere of existential strangeness and dread, but lack that writer's compelling power. The lesser stories are variations on familiar themes in recent popular fiction and cinema.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. M. Knight on 17 Aug. 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Adam Marek's first wide scale appearance was in the Bridport Prize Anthology 2003 and again in 2005. Recently, on the National Short Story website, he has contributed a pair of witty and poignant self-help articles: Five mistakes I made while trying to get published and Seven motivational tools every writer needs. In-between, many of his stories have been shortlisted for a variety of awards. This first collection contains a mixture of 14 such stories spanning 209 pages.

The 40-litre Monkey: A visit to a pet shop turns bizarre as the shopkeeper is fixated with sizes; winning prizes for increasing the volumes of his pets, specifically his monkey, Cooper. This is a funny yet absurd tale made real by delightful dialogue and a punchy monologue. The first paragraph is an ideal example of a simple yet attention grabbing introduction that entices the reader to keep reading.

A Belly Full of Rain: This story creeps towards the limit of 8000 words, but it needs to for it tracks a most unusual pregnancy, seen from a hapless male perspective, who only wants a son, not a football team times three.

Jumping Jennifer: The only story in this anthology viewed from a female perspective. Why did she do it? Why would such a beautiful girl with everything going for her try to kill herself? This hollow feel story is more about friendship than suicidal thoughts as three students debate the cause of the Barbie girl's decline.

Testicular Cancer vs. the Behemoth: Godzilla meets Jungle Jim, only Jim is dying. On the surface, this premise is predictable, but the fantastical takes a back seat as our hero battles to come to terms with the Big C, whereupon monster and disease merge to become a thing of beauty.
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