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The Method: and Other Stories (Salt Modern Fiction) [Paperback]

Tom Vowler
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

1 Nov 2010 Salt Modern Fiction
Winner of the 2011 Edge Hill Readers’ Prize

The characters in this award-winning debut collection are very good at losing things: children, lovers, hope, the plot. They discover the past is not a place easily escaped from, as it pursues them with startling, sometimes horrifying, consequences.

A writer takes his research a little too far; a couple, stricken with guilt and grief, prepare a last meal; a group of swingers is rocked by the arrival of a new couple; a man takes a train journey to learn how to kill again; a deformed brother and sister exact revenge half a mile underground; a modern-day messiah astonishes a criminal gang, and a father is forever tormented by the few minutes his back was turned.

It’s impossible not to connect with these lives and the things that happen to them remaining with you long after reading. Provocative and bold, these stories will get under your skin.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Salt Publishing (1 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844718042
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844718047
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 832,943 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Tom Vowler lives in the UK, where he writes and edits fiction. His collection of short stories, THE METHOD, won the inaugural Scott Prize (2010) and the Edge Hill Readers' Prize (2011). His debut novel, WHAT LIES WITHIN, is a psychological suspense set on Dartmoor, and his second, THAT DARK REMEMBERED DAY, is out now. Tom is editor of the literary journal Short Fiction, as well as an associate lecturer at Plymouth University, where he's studying for a PhD. More at

Product Description


Vowler is not afraid to be new, to be dangerous with it and flaunt his talent. Composed beautifully and saturated with insight and compassion. (The Short Review)


Emotionally powerful. (Susie Macguire, author of The Short Hello and Furthermore)

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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique 31 Jan 2013
By Silly01
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Beautifully written and very sensitive. Made me love short stories even more. I hope Tom Vowler will continue writing short fiction, he clearly has a talent for it. I keep this book under my bed and read only one story. Some of them I did't quite get at the end, but still I give 5 stars.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Quality Short Stories 24 Mar 2012
I like short stories, but I am a writer myself, and picky, so often I don't enjoy them as much as I expect. However, these stories astonished and delighted me by being crafted with flick-knife precision. Every word adds power to the story, every sentence draws the reader on, even into places they'd rather not go (I had to read the end of 'Homecoming' with one eye shut). Each story has a different, clear, and recognisable voice. My favourite was 'Offline', but there wasn't a single story that didn't move me. It took me a long time to read this book because each tale is so complete, and so resonant, that after I read each one I had to put the book down for a while. I have read many books of short stories in my life. This is one of the best I have found. If you like writing that churns and kneads your emotions, you'll love this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great read 15 Sep 2011
really enjoyed every last page of this deviously dense tome, hooks you like your favourite box set. Lent it to a workmate , that's always rewarding...(maybe she'll buy his next one)recommend. Very finely honed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning short story collection 18 Feb 2011
By Kathryn Eastman VINE VOICE
This is a stunning collection of short stories and an extremely accomplished debut. While a recurring feature of the stories is of dealing with events in a character's past, I was seriously impressed by Tom Vowler's range of narrators and versatility of style. It would have been all too easy to devour this book in one go but that would have done it a disservice. Like the richest chocolate, I thought it was better to savour it and read a story every now and again as a treat. Individual characters and their stories will stay with me for a long time and I just know that I'll be re-reading The Method and re-visiting them for years to come. Highly recommended reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A collection that will stay with you 30 Nov 2010
The confrontational and perversely sensual cover of this collection gives a taste of what is to come. There is madness in The Method but also sadness, pathos and just sometimes, tiny scraps of kindness in unexpected places. One involving a cat. The stories are an exploration of how people can be shaped, often twisted, by their life experiences. How a writer takes it over the edge in the title story. In Little Man, the underground setting is perfect thematically: it gives not only a sense of claustrophobia but demonstrates the grief that often lies beneath the surface - particularly in families. This is a book of riches. I enjoyed the elegant phraseology, the dryness and the melancholy. There is always an authentic sense of voice from each narrator and a wide diversity of narrator.

If someone asks to borrow this book from you, the answer should be no. Because it's a volume that improves upon each reading. The message is: Buy your own; you won't regret it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious and exciting work 22 Nov 2010
I was seriously impressed by the versatility and range of Vowler's narratorial voice. This is uncommon writing. Bleak writing. Ambitious writing. That being said, in any collection and especially one like this that casts its net so wide, there are bound to be stories that one prefers over others.

The very best stories of the bunch are those concerning childhood and family bonds. "There Are New Birthdays Now," in which a couple's daughter has been abducted, delivers a devastating emotional punch. The story of a brother and sister who come together in the wake of their father's death ("Busy. Come. Wait") is a vivid rendering of sibling disconnection and subsequent reconnection. Another highlight is "Homecoming" in which a young offender is released from a secure unit and returns to the scene of his crime, reviewing his youthful violence with older, wiser eyes. The most moving and accomplished story of the collection is the final one, "The Little Man," in which a brother exacts revenge for acts of cruelty committed against his sister.

There were a couple of stories that I disliked, but overall this is an impressive and enjoyable collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, Gripping Stories 29 Mar 2013
There is a theme running through the stories in Tom Vowler's debut collection: that of loss. Whether it's the loss of a child, the end of a relationship, or losing a grip on reality, all the characters are trying to come to terms with the situations in which they find themselves. Some of the stories are very dark, especially 'The Method' and 'The Last Supper'. Others are more light-hearted. I was especially drawn to 'The Games They Play' about the effect a new couple has on the dynamics of an established group of Swingers. And all writers will recognise the despair felt by the narrator of 'One Story', an author with a bad case of writers' block that is not being alleviated by the G&Ts.

Vowler's stories are beautifully written. His style is spare and stark, and sometimes the reader needs to go back and check what she has just read. The chilling tale 'The Little Man', which closes the collection, is told in such an understated manner that I had to read the ending twice to make sure I'd not missed anything.

If you enjoy well-written short stories, that are just a bit different, this is a collection you will love.
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