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What You Make It: Selected Short Stories [Paperback]

Michael Marshall Smith
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
Price: 7.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

4 Jan 2000

The first ever collection of Michael Marshall Smith’s award-winning short stories.

The first piece of fiction Smith ever wrote – a short story called The Man Who Drew Cats – won the World Fantasy award. It’s included here along with many others, some unpublished, which show the incredible versatility of one of the most exciting writers working in Britain today. The collection is stuffed with surreal, disturbing gems including:

‘When God Lived in Kentish Town’ Someone comes up to you when you’re quietly eating your stir-fried rice in a great Chinese take away, and tells you: ‘I’ve found God’. You try to ignore them, right? But what if they have, and what if He works in a drab old electrical store on Kentish Town Road and he’s not getting many customers?

‘Diet Hell’ Some people will do anything to fit into their old jeans.

‘Save As…’ What if you could back up your life? Save it up to a certain point and return to it when things went horribly wrong?

‘Everybody Goes’ An idyllic childhood day from a long, hot summer. The kind you want to last for ever. All good things must come to an end, mustn’t they?

Frequently Bought Together

What You Make It: Selected Short Stories + Spares + Only Forward
Price For All Three: 24.37

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  • Spares 6.39
  • Only Forward 9.99

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (4 Jan 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006510078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006510079
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 324,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

There are those SF readers who resent the authors and publishers who attempt to downplay the genre aspects of their books to grant them more mainstream credibility. This resentment is fair enough, in that no one need be ashamed of creating a top-notch SF novel. But these readers will be doing themselves a great disservice if they do not pick up Michael Marshall Smith's superb collection of short stories What You Make It merely because the jacket has been designed to suggest mainstream fiction without the slightest SF association.

Smith has always been one of the most quirkily inventive and surprising of writers, with novels such as Only Forward and the remarkable Spares demonstrating an imaginative grasp all too rarely encountered these days. But his greatest achievement is his totally individual use of language and dialogue, and this highly diverse collection has 17 brilliant microcosms of his style. From terror in cyberspace to bizarre fusions of man and machine, through twisted manifestations of the artistic impulse to highly disturbing future sex, Smith has the measure of it all. And his gift for the bizarre image remains as acute as ever:

About a week afterwards, I noticed that my back was looking a little hairy. I figured, what the hey, maybe some hormonal thing. Then it started getting harder to hold things. My thumb seemed to be going a little weird, not as opposable as it used to be. There were a couple of days when it looked like there was some kind of tail deal developing.
--Barry Forshaw


‘Astonishingly distinctive short stories’

‘A story telling skill that can only be described as pure genius’

‘Very funny and decidedly surreal’

‘No one writes better than Smith about love: how it’s won, how it’s lost. No one writes better about being wasted – by drugs, by drink, by time. Nigh-on unique’

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sigh...more money. 4 Feb 2003
By pupmup
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This, was very dodgy indeed. Lent to me by a friend and dubiously started, i finished the book in a day. Consdering school that was actually quaite an acomplishment. The book was incredible. Personally, I love the macarbre and the disturbing, and so this fitted me perfectly. The characters were ranging from the normal to the surreal, and the plots from the basic to the gasp out loud horror that makes you quirm in your chair. MMS is a great fan of one liners that sum up the story and leave you hanging, and it was over these that I pored at 3am, afraid to turn off the light. A fantastic book. You may wonder why the title for this review? As soon as I finished this book, I gave it back to the friend, ordered it, and every other book that MMS had written off Amazon. Brilliant. Buy it now.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, Dark and Edgy 24 Oct 2002
At the start of this collection of short stories, Michael Marshall Smith is careful to alert the reader to the difference between a novel and a short story - and it is a warning that the reader would do well to heed.
One of the strength of MMS's writing is in his honest and very raw dealings with human emotions. His novels often balance out the warmth of his central characters against some of the more brutal things that happen in the course of the story. There's just not enough time to build that warmth here in these stories so they inevitably end up very raw, very bleak and ever so slightly disturbing.
That said, the stories are still expertly written (although his humour is something else that doesn't get much of a look-in in some of the stories) and they give a good idea of MMS's ideas pared down to their simplest forms and maybe a little better idea of what makes him tick. It's interesting, for instance, to speculate how "The Man who drew cats" was influenced by the writing of Stephen King for instance.
All in all a very good book - imaginative, stylish and scary. Just don't read it if you're looking for something to cheer you up on a rainy afternoon. It's likely to make you wonder if the rain is ever going to stop.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What have I let myself in for? 2 Feb 2007
The first story in this book "More Tomorrow" really made me start to wonder what I'd inadvertently bought - as it was an inadvertent purchase on my part. I was reading it in bed and I just lay there, staring at the last line of the story, images that I didn't need swirling around in my head just before I was about to go to sleep... I decided I didn't like it and I put it down.

The night after (suitably, it's a night book for me!) I was back... onto the second story. "Everybody Goes" was intriguing... on the first pass I will admit that I didn't truly 'get it'... so I read the last page and a half again and it clicked, "Oh yeah, kinda clever!" and I started to like it again.

Each night I've read one, two or three stories and I must say there are larger number of hits in there than there are misses. There's been one or two that I didn't like... but you've, basically, got to almost steel yourself for the last line (more often the last page or last half page) 'cos it's about to turn you on your head and spin you around.

I have bought several other books by the same author - novels as opposed to collections of short stories... so that's the effect an introduction to his writing has had on me... let's see how well he does with longer material.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must! 31 May 2000
By A Customer
I first encountered Michael Marshall Smith in an anthology. Not personally of course, but he does write in the kind of way that makes you feel you know him. He writes the way many of us (the warped ones anyway) think. More Tomorrow is the only story that has ever made me lose sleep, and I've been reading Stephen King ever since he first emerged in the 70s. Why did that story scare me so much? Read it and find out. Smith's skill in building that story, keeping the reader guessing, interested, but only enough to keep reading to find out if their idea of what was going on would be correct or not, is quite remarkable. The slammer, dealt short and sharp on only 2 words, wiped me out. For a week. The only other writer I've known capable of doing that with a story is Orson Scott Card in the Lost Boys - and it took him 8 words.
I want to meet the guy, shake his hand, and congratulate him on tapping that well that only truly great writers find. Then I want him to take me to it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short, sharp and unsettling 5 May 2000
By A Customer
Ideally these are the sort of stories that you read by yourself in a dark room late at night. Smith is not only a writer who has a dazzling imagination (brilliantly demonstrated by his three novels) but also a writer whose command of mood is excellent. Try reading 'More Tomorrow' or 'More Bitter Than Death' without feeling a sense of discord. The only thing that is missing from the collection are writer comments on the various stories. Like many people i would like to know the thinking behind the stories, especially 'The Fracture'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not what was expected = but wow 23 Aug 2004
This was bought after I had read the other (sci-fi) novels and was expecting more of the same humour/horror. Read the first story and .... I don't think a last line has ever hit me so hard before. Found it hard to put down (as I do any MMS book) and did find some humour, but overall this is a collection of dark horror stories. This is well worth a read, but be prepared for the darker side of sci-fi
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding writer!
I love all of his books, no one writes like Michael Marshall, sometimes known as Michael Marshall Smith for his science fiction work. Read more
Published 2 months ago by KHA
5.0 out of 5 stars The Fear....
In one of the stories in this collection "the Fear" is described as "..the panicky conviction that you have done something embarrassing, or ill-advised" or ".. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Bonemonkey
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging, out of the ordinary and wel written...never a dull...
A book of short stories is something that I believe is incredibly difficult to get right....and by that I mean make each story self contained but self explanatory, engaging and... Read more
Published on 8 April 2012 by D. J. Parkes
2.0 out of 5 stars Short Stories - I just don't like them.
I love this guy. Well at least I love this guy's sci-fi novels. But this isn't a novel, its a book of short stories and I don't like short stories so I can't really blame the... Read more
Published on 5 Nov 2011 by James Hodge
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written, but weird.
A selection of short stories from Michael Marshall Smith. I enjoyed the book, even though there were a number of decidedly average stories. Read more
Published on 17 May 2010 by simon211175
5.0 out of 5 stars A Glimpse Into The World of Madness
I recently met Michael Marshall Smith at a science fiction convention where he decided to read to us from one of his works. Read more
Published on 11 Mar 2009 by D. Lu
4.0 out of 5 stars Direct, dark and gripping
Writing (almost?) exclusively in the first person, MMS's style is very direct, immediately drawing you in. Read more
Published on 28 Jan 2007 by Mal Ross
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Disturbing
I read this book after reading other titles by Michael Marshall Smith and was slightly perturbed. The style is similar to the other titles by the author, but the content is less... Read more
Published on 27 Aug 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Contemporary and fascinating
I've only begun to read short stories and I first read the collection of shorts by Roald Dahl which is another I highly recommend. Read more
Published on 1 Feb 2002 by
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