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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pervese ingenuity indeed, 20 Oct. 2010
By 
G. Preston "gazhack" (Bolton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical (Paperback)
Robert Shearman returns with a thoughtful set of short stories about modern love. He has a unique voice that combines the macabre with notes of poignancy and humour. That comedy often comes from the rational way his absurd notions play out in a very English world of reserve and a desire to accommodate. He is well aware of the way that even the greatest dramas of our lives have mundane details written through them like the lettering in seaside rock. The Times Literary Supplement reviewer quoted at the start of the book comes out with a great line when he talks about Rob's "perverse ingenuity that gave us killer robots crying out for love". Most of lead characters in these stories are people who don't follow the norm, who don't think they are feeling the right emotions.

Amongst the highlights is "Love Among the Lobelias", the opening tale of the Devil becoming a romantic novelist, an act which has farcical and deadly consequences. "This Creeping Thing" is probably the most heartbreaking for me. The disappearance of "Luxembourg" doesn't cause many people to lose sleep but a woman finds her life unexpectedly changed. Our modern tendency to mine celebrities out of news events is dryly caught in "Sharp". But it's almost unfair to single out these stories because all of them are strong pieces.

Shearman finds love in the twenty first century battered but not bowed. These stories about its presence, or often its absence, will make you think and feel. Above all, it demands us move beyond conventional Hollywood views of life or romance and move into a richer world.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love Songs For the Shy and Cynical, 16 Jun. 2010
By 
Jane Aland (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical (Paperback)
Robert Shearman's second collection of short stories maintains the high quality of 'Tiny Deaths', offering nineteen new tales based around the theme of love. The stories are a beguiling mix of the mundane and fantastic, with Shearman populating the most bizarre scenarios with realistic and believable characters. The author's touch is also light when it comes to the prose, with a deceptively straightforward writing style that only serves to highlight the intensity of the sudden plot twists or intrusions of the bizarre. The result is rather like being led into a back alley by the friendliest of teddy bears, only to find oneself visciously mugged and beaten moments later.

Despite the theme there's nothing cosy about this book, with heartbreak and painful consquences being more prevalent than romantic fulfilment. There is also plenty of humour however, albeit usually of the blackest variety. I don't really want to talk about the specifics of any of the stories themeslves, because to do so would rob the reader of the suprises in store. Suffice to say, 'Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical' is amusing, horrifying and frequently affecting, all at the same time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Darkly comic and superb, 8 Dec. 2009
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D. Gillespie - See all my reviews
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Just finished this book and not for a long time has a book made me laugh out loud so much and so often. Some very dark and bleak humour in places and all the more superb for it. Read it. It's fantastic!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent short stories, 12 Feb. 2011
By 
Tony "mezzaninedoor" (GREAT YARMOUTH, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical (Paperback)
Quite a short review for this book really.

It's more of the same from Robert Shearman and when I say that I mean that in a good way. It's more of the same diverting, interesting, unique and engaging short stories just like in his previous tome 'Tiny Deaths' which I have bought as a present for people because I wanted people to read these stories.

I really wish that I had heard Mr. Shearmans radio 4 plays as if they are as compelling as this collection of stories, they must be a good listen, sadly I don't think they are commercially available as audio.

Highly recommended and a book that I'm sure I will return to.
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4.0 out of 5 stars He just wasn't comfortable having body organs lying around the breakfast things, 16 May 2011
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical (Paperback)
Robert Shearman has won awards galore, including a world fantasy writing award and for playwriting and television series' (inc. Dr Who), and this is his second collection of short stories. It is very appealing, off-beat and quirky, these stories are set just out of plain view in a world that resembles, but superficially, our own. They are love songs stretched out of context, involving death and sex as often as love and they challenge the reader, sometimes discomfortingly. They might involve the ghost of a cat or a man who substitutes his wife's heart for that of a pig, or indeed, involve a pig that sings a love song. They are hauntingly good in parts, and fearsomely awful in others.

My favourite is probably the most conventional, Love in a Time of Sharing where an increasingly disenchanted time-share salesman finally revolts from his loathsome job. In one story a strange species of furry creatures with wings becomes roadkill but manages to give birth at the last gasp, and in another Luxemburg disappears only to pop up somewhere in the South Pacific. In some stories there is a lovely torque to the logic that can delight. In George Clooney's Moustache there is a neat U-turn on an abduction scenario; in Jolly Roger a cruise turns sinister for a man who is angry with Jesus, his cabin steward, who has a spooky way with the bath towels. The stories are quite short which makes them all the more addictive (I'll just read one more before I turn out the light).
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect book for lovers of the 'weird'., 17 Dec. 2009
By 
R. Boundy (Devon, UK) - See all my reviews
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The problem with most short stories, for me at least, is that they tend to leave the reader with a slight feeling of dissatisfaction - a feeling of what? - why? and, all too often, a feeling of so what? - who cares? Too many short stories serve as a platform to demonstrate the author's way with words, his or her 'lovely turn of phrase', all too often at the expense of the story itself.

One of the great things (and trust me on this, there are many great things) about Robert Shearman's stories, is the way they leave you perfectly satisfied yet longing for more. The word 'quirky' is doubtless over-used when it comes to stories of this genre, yet what better word exists for a story in which Luxembourg simply disappears overnight? Or one in which a man takes on the job of being a tree (a very nice sycamore, since you ask) rather than face long empty afternoons of unemployment?

The joy of the stories in this effortlessly joyful volume (and in Tiny Deaths, the one that preceded it) is the way in which, despite the surreal situations in which the characters find themselves, their reactions are always recognisably human - occasionally just a little too recognisable for comfort. The characters have their own weaknesses but we love them because we recognise those weaknesses in ourselves.

The short story is a much more difficult form than it appears at first sight and there are very few writers who can handle it with the aplomb and elan it deserves. Among those few I would list Kazuo Ishiguro, Michel Faber and now, for proving Tiny Deaths wasn't just beginner's luck, Robert Shearman.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 23 Aug. 2010
By 
Mr. P. Labrow (Stockport, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical (Paperback)
I know, short stories aren't for everyone. But this simply excellent book is a collection of rare gems, written with wit and sparkle - despite their often dark nature. Two thumbs up from me, only sorry there wasn't a Kindle edition and I had to buy paper.
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Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical
Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical by Robert Shearman (Paperback - 30 April 2010)
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