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Storm Warning: Echoes of Conflict (Salt Modern Fiction) [Paperback]

Vanessa Gebbie
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Nov 2010 Salt Modern Fiction
Storm Warning is the latest collection from award-winning writer Vanessa Gebbie, described as ‘prodigiously gifted’ by novelist Maggie Gee. It explores the echoes of human conflict in a series of powerful stories inspired by life with the author’s own father, who fought and was decorated in WWII, but suffered the after-effects for the rest of his life.

Conflict is often explored from the child’s perspective and ranges from conventional warfare to historical religious persecution. War veterans are haunted by events that echo louder and louder, and eventually break them. A prisoner sees the violent execution of a friend and mentor, a boy hides from a necklacing, a young student escapes the fighting in Iraq in the hope of continuing his education in the West and a woman tells what she knows of her parents’ torture.

The people in these stories are not those who go down in history, but ordinary troops, the powerless, caught up involuntarily. All are tested, sometimes to breaking point, in this extraordinary collection as Gebbie explores the surreality of conflict and the after-effects of atrocity.

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Storm Warning: Echoes of Conflict (Salt Modern Fiction) + Words from a Glass Bubble (Salt Modern Fiction) + The Coward's Tale
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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Salt Publishing (1 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844718123
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844718122
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 981,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description


In these terse and complex fictions, Vanessa Gebbie gives us an entire worldview in only a few pages. Her carefully etched story-moments and sharp-edged prose style are only the least of her considerable storytelling gifts. (Rusty Barnes, Editor and Co-Founder, Night Train)

From the Author

Storm Warning was largely inspired by life with my father, a sapper who was decorated in WWII. An ordinary man, not a career soldier, he experienced the aftershocks of these war years throughout his life. I wanted to explore how ordinary people are changed by conflict, both those directly involved, and those watching unwillingly on the sidelines. (Vanessa Gebbie)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another triumph for Vanessa Gebbie 19 Nov 2010
By jon.ldn
It would be difficult to beat Gebbie's stunning last collection of short stories "Words from a Glass Bubble" but she has certainly achieved it. This new collection is certainly more challenging written under the theme of war and its impact in many differing ways on lives throughout the world, across the centuries, but the results are as brilliant & thought-provoking as ever.
I applaud Gebbie for being brave enough not to embrace "feel-good" - a real creative achievement. Can't wait for the novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Storm Warning indeed... 15 April 2011
The first story I read from this collection was 'Letters from Kilburn'. It's starts out as deceptively light - 'Dear Your Majesty, I hope you do not mind that I am writing. It is about the water pipes at Essex Heights. The water is brown and I am worried...'

The story is told in a series of letters, each slowly building a picture we can't possibly have known was coming, but the whole is beautifully and dexterously handled.

I was in at the birth of two or three of these stories. Back then, The Ale-Heretic wasn't quite fully formed, wasn't quite revealing himself. Read him here and he serves as testament to the almost exponential growth of a truly gifted writer. The same is true of 'Sparks' Faraday and others who inhabit these pages. Rarely have I found flash fictions of so few words capable of evoking such deep emotional responses.

Though it's a slim volume, it is not a book to be read in a sitting. In truth, I think most readers would find that impossible because each story demands that one takes a mind-breath, takes the time to consider, and reconsider. Gebbie explores the lives of seemingly ordinary people, and reveals depth and complexity in the human condition that we all too easily forget.

A stunning collection. Buy it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, poignant and involving 23 Jan 2011
Vanessa Gebbie is a writer who has the ability to set the scene with spare but poignant words and phrases, creating an instant image of the lives of her "friends" she is writing about. Their lives are often sad, unsatisfactory, even tormented but then that is what you expect when reading about Echoes of Conflict. Her range is from the first World War to the Berlin Wall and each story is succinct and tremendously moving. She makes you care about the sometimes flawed but ultimately fragile people in her stories. Well done and I am looking forward to reading more from Vanessa. A talent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterclass 12 Jan 2011
I must say I tried to stay cool before reading Gebbie's new collection of short stories and flash fiction. Her first collection Words From a Glass Bubble was exquisite: the stories were unique and authentic, the characters felt like I'd known them for years, and the narrative voices were both peculiar and particular, and all the more endearing for that. I was both excited and a little skeptical, thinking, No way Gebbie can pull it off again.

She did.

And she made every aspect of story-telling appear so natural and unconstrained. It's almost like slipping on ice, Oops, she did it again, made us fall in love with her.

There are many stories that stayed with me. Since I have been through war, I can relate and quite appreciate the way Gebbie treats war. I have particular love for sappers (ever since I read The English Patient), and like Gebbie's treatment of that bizarre profession (I think her father was a sapper).

There is one story that stands out for me, "Letters from Kilburn", which has an epistolary form, and consists of the letters exchanged between an Iraqi boy Karim Hussein and Her Majesty's Deputy Secretary. Karim writes to the Queen to ask for help and after a few standard answers, suddenly we discover a human being, a person behind the "function." I will not reveal much more, but want to stress that for someone who has written fiction myself, this story is a masterclass in this kind of voice. Stories that use this form to make a certain point are most often than not preachy, un-engaging, stiff, formulaic, you get the point. "Letters from Kilburn" is gets under my skin.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A right good read 17 Nov 2010
For me a short story is either excellent or no good at all. Therefore looking for collections of short stories is primarily looking for a reliable author and when you find one such rare source you will look forward to the next collection. This is what happens when I read these stories by Vanessa Gebbie. Again and again they outdo your expectations and delight in new ways. In Letters From Kilburn at first I thought I might have found a so-so one but what unfolded in the series of letters got me by the heart and squeezed, which is not common at all in short stories. Don't be surprised if that one becomes a film. All of the stories are related to war but not in any predictable way, which is all the better. I need stories and when other books to hand let me down I know I can open this little book and read something wonderful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Haunted and haunting stories 17 April 2011
Both haunted and haunting, Vanessa Gebbie's protagonists in these unsettling stories move through the present but remain always tethered to the past. No war stories these, but explorations of what it means to "survive" the conflicts and horrors created by humans across centuries and continents. Like Pat Barker, Gebbie gives voice to those who cannot forget, even decades later, who was taken and and what was lost in the blood and mud. Gebbie's strength lies in her poetic and poignant combination of reality and dream, the weaving together of outer experience and inner turbulence, and the small sparks of hope even in the darkest corners.
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