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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fifteen insights into the human condition, 19 Oct 2007
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a reader (Hove,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction (Paperback)
In reading this collection, I was taken by how personally i felt the actions, reactions and emotions of the characters. Nothing is left unexplored or hidden by the author. There's a depth of realism explored with such honesty that I found myself constantly thinking in terms of my own memories, sometimes with mixed emotions. Each story is starkly modern. The stories, for me, avoid cliche by exploring the theme of personal attraction and desire in the world today, and not a vague form of universal love. There is something here for every reader to identify with. It follows on perfectly from 'The Wave Theory of Angels.' I recommend this book. It will illustrate the power of good short story writing and provide you with stories you will return to time and again.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars full of admiration, 10 Oct 2007
This review is from: Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction (Paperback)
I've been reading just shorts for the last 18 months, and Alison MacLoed's stories are right at the top of my
list; brilliantly written, inspiring, moving and funny. Thank you - more please!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Breath of Fresh Air, 9 Oct 2007
This review is from: Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction (Paperback)
I just picked this book up in London while travelling. A fantastic find. I'd read one of Alison MacLeod's stories in a Canadian paper recently and bought the collection on the strength of that, and her last novel The Wave Theory of Angels. I sometimes find story collections a bit samey but that's not the case here. It's funny and troubling, provocative and down-to-earth. She gives us a great array of characters -- a care-home patient who has a crush on his nurse, a sophisticated London woman wary of love, a 19-year old hair-stylist who falls for a stranger at his hospital bed, and an ordinary young couple divided by extraordinary events. These are smart, beautiful tales of modern life. But what connects them all, story by story, is something moving about our timeless need for connection and warmth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This made me fall in love with the short story again, 9 Dec 2013
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There isn't a weak story in this remarkable volume of short stories. Alison MacLeod has produced a series of quite remarkable stories about we live, love, fail and die. If that sounds bleak it is not. The stories render human life with such tender humanity that they are uplifting, heartbreaking and thought provoking. Like all great art they make you at the world with new eyes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some Wonderful Writing but Horribly Bleak!, 15 Oct 2013
By 
Kate Hopkins (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction (Paperback)
Alison MacLeod's first collection of short stories focusses on the mysterious power of attraction between people and how it can develop. Sometimes, the attraction is of the traditional 'love at first sight' type, as when in the first story a worker in the British Museum falls in love with a Canadian student who reminds him of a Greek sculpture of a goddess. At other times, it's stranger and darker, like the feelings of 19-year-old Naomi in 'Sacred Heart', who falls for a fifty-year-old cardiac victim and ends up passionately embracing his corpse, or Gloria in 'Live Wire', an ECT-patient who becomes obsessed with her doctor, or Helen in 'Pilot', who decides to leave her husband after seeing the body of a pilot whale washed up on the shore. In one story, MacLeod takes an iconic love (that of Heloise and Abelard) and relays their correspondence in e-mails and instant messaging (though as she doesn't move the characters to the modern age, the point is perhaps slightly lost, though the story is certainly moving and witty). In most of the stories, the attraction explored has a tragic outcome, or develops into something rather strange. And that was my real problem with this collection - the bulk of the stories are horribly bleak and dark (so much so that, having read the book on a long Tube journey, I emerged from the Underground confused at seeing bright daylight!). MacLeod's writing can be extremely beautiful. Although I'm afraid I found 'Radiant Heat' (a fictionalization of the famous SwissAir crash near Halifax in 1998) a difficult and even terrifying read (I'll certainly need to take three deep breaths before getting in a plane again!) MacLeod's way of telling her story was skilful, and there were some exquisite passages, such as a scientist's memories of his childhood discovery of physics. 'Dirty Weekend', an account of two lovers who enjoy a wonderful weekend in Paris, then two years later bravely try to keep their spirits up on a trip to Brighton, though the man is dying of liver cancer, was very moving, and beautifully written throughout. And the first story ('So that the land was darkened') was also beautifully structured and contained some wonderful descriptions, though I found the narrator unsympathetic for the most part. However, I found a good number of the stories rather self-conscious in their modernist style, and the obsessive focus on misery and frustration ultimately made me depressed. Often I found the characters rather thinly sketched, and found it difficult to get involved in their lives or sympathize with them, particularly in the more stylized stories. I found the penultimate story simply pretentious (no surprise that Baudrillard got a mention here!) and though 'The Knowledge of Penises' was brilliant in its evocation of loneliness, I didn't believe the bit about the relationship of Nina and her friend's toddler at all!. At other times, such as in 'Rosie's Tongue', I didn't find the humour all that funny and couldn't see the point the author was trying to make. However, all this being said, at her best, MacLeod's writing, both of descriptions and dialogue, is at a very high level. And I thought her 'Notes for a Chaotic Century' - one of the very few upbeat stories in the book, about a couple who fall in love unexpectedly during a riot in the Edmonton Ikea - one of the best short stories I've read for ages, along with 'Dirty Weekend'.

An impressive achievement, then, but I probably wouldn't read the book again bar about three stories, due to its very depressing content. However, I'm much looking forward to reading MacLeod's 'The Wave Forms of Angels' and 'Unexploded', and seeing how she develops characters over a longer period and on a bigger scale.
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Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction
Fifteen Modern Tales of Attraction by Alison MacLeod (Paperback - 27 Sep 2007)
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