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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning fiction from a great writer
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...
Published on 30 Dec. 2012 by Vanessa Wu

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complete works
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.
Published on 6 Dec. 2009 by booksetc


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning fiction from a great writer, 30 Dec. 2012
This review is from: The Complete Short Stories (Canons) (Paperback)
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. Something she can't tell her friends but which she has told us, the sophisticated readers, who have stayed with her story to the end. I was totally gripped by the last few pages. Nothing could have wrenched me from my seat.

Muriel Spark seems to be regarded as old-fashioned by some readers these days. That seems a great pity. This kind of narrative power should never go out of fashion. It is heartening to see, therefore that her complete stories have now been published in this new edition by Canongate, one of the more enlightened of British independent publishers (another of their recent titles was Life of Pi).
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 19 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: The Complete Short Stories (Canons) (Paperback)
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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complete works, 6 Dec. 2009
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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, 10 Aug. 2013
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars Sting in the tail, 30 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: The Complete Short Stories (Canons) (Paperback)
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 Five Stars, 3 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: The Complete Short Stories (Canons) (Paperback)
Great to take on a wet or boring hoplidat!
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent book. thank you very much indeed, 31 July 2014
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excellent book.thank you very much indeed.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short stories, 16 Mar. 2009
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For any budding short story writer this is a must for your collection. Perfect examples of the art of short story writing.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really couldn't get into this author. Found the stories ..., 11 Aug. 2014
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Really couldn't get into this author. Found the stories a bit fragmented and rather blunt. Ending in the first one was abrupt and rather disappointing
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dated!, 19 July 2012
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Muriel Spark was a well thought of writer in her day, but now her short stories appear old - fashioned.
She writes about an amazing variety of topics, and very often they have a twist in the tale.
Some of her stories made me laugh out loud, some were really sad, and others completely up the wall.
Worth reading.
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The Complete Short Stories (Canons)
The Complete Short Stories (Canons) by Muriel Spark (Paperback - 18 Aug. 2011)
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