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The Complete Short Stories (Canons) [Paperback]

Muriel Spark , Janice Galloway
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
Price: 8.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

18 Aug 2011 Canons (Book 2)

From the cruel irony of 'A member of the Family' to the fateful echoes of 'The Go-Away Bird' and the unexpectedly sinister 'The Girl I Left Behind Me', in settings that range from South Africa to the Portobello Road, Muriel Spark coolly probes the idiosyncrasies that lurk beneath the veneer of human respectability, displaying the acerbic wit and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her unique talent.

The Complete Short Stories is a collection to be loved and cherished, from one of the finest short-story writers of the twentieth century.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main - Canons Imprint edition (18 Aug 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857862278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857862273
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 398,110 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Completely, searingly original. There is nobody remotely like her (Independent)

Glittering, concise, funny and beautifully written (Telegraph)

None could equal the cool perception with which she chronicles the darker mysteries of the human conidtion (John Mortimer Evening Standard)

One of the most decisive and unmistakable voices in contemporary fiction - youthful, witty, sly, maternal, intimate, and alive with opinion (Stephen Schiff New Yorker)

My admiration for Spark's contribution to world literature knows no bounds. She was peerless, sparkling, inventive and intelligent - the crème de la crème (Ian Rankin)

It is perhaps her short stories that demonstrate her gifts best: wit, perception, acute characterisation, elegance and precision. They mark her out as one of the finest writers of her generation (Observer)

A wholly original presence in modern literature (Andrew Motion)

Muriel Spark's novels linger in the mind as brilliant shards, decisive as a smashed glass is decisive (John Updike New Yorker)

Dullness is as alien to her as inelegance (New Statesman and Society)

You've got to hand it to Canongate. When it comes to repackaging their back catalogue, they're in a class of their own. ... What have [the Canons] in common? Nothing - except for a subtle yet powerful branding ... the way they are marketed has a touch of genius. (Scotsman)

Book Description

With an introduction by Janice Galloway

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Customer Reviews

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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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 10 Aug 2013
By g
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was looking for 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie', but it was not available. Am glad in the sense that I found this instead. It is an excellent collection. However, when will 'Prime' become available?
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