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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding short stories, 19 Nov 2012
By 
Mandy Pannett "wordshopper" (Pulborough West Sussex UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dot, Dash (Salt Modern Fiction) (Paperback)
These are modern tales in modern settings. Many are macabre, hard hitting and shocking. In `Convalescence', for example, it is alarming to find the narrator's life has been saved by a brain transplanted from an executed murderer. Even more horrifying are the story's final moments - but you must read them for yourselves, I won't give out any spoilers. Similarly, `Nature's Banquet' starts lightly enough with `Blossom in the trees, dew on the meadow grass and the pungent whiff of steamy cowpats' but becomes darker as the protagonist takes pot shots at baby rabbits, tucking the soft and bloody bodies into his belt to make himself feel like a `real countryman'. The climax, an inverted fairy tale, is the stuff of nightmares or a living death. I don't suggest you read `The Problem with Pork' too late at night, either.

Yet there are light and humorous touches throughout the stories in this superb collection. `Return to Cairo' is a perfect example as is `A Perfect Plague of Yellow Ducks' and, my own particular favourite, `Advice re Elephants'.

And there is compassion too, conveyed by unexpected juxtapositions such as the poignancy in the very brief tale `The Drought' : `When she met him, the rain stopped, the clouds parted and the sun shone once more. The drought lasted the rest of her life.'

I am glad this book won the Scott Prize and that Salt has published it in such a beautiful edition. I guarantee you will want to read these stories over and over again, each time finding more to appreciate and think upon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and sharp, 9 July 2013
This review is from: Dot, Dash (Salt Modern Fiction) (Paperback)
I bought this collection after reading, "The Amazing Arnolfini and His Wife", which I loved. It contains "dashes" - short stories, and "dots" - micro-stories. Jonathan Pinnock sets up fantastic but not always comfortable scenarios, which reveal fears and flaws. His sci-fi, horror and humorous patchwork is both entertaining and accessible. My favourites included the very moving, "Return to Cairo", the humorous, "Canine Mathematics" and the telling, "A Plague of Yellow Plastic Ducks". Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dot Dash – Delight, 14 Mar 2013
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Dot Dash is one of those rare books that just can’t be faulted. Filled with stunning short and very short stories (hence the title), this book delivers some incredible tales that captivate and enthral the reader.

Each individual story offers a unique viewpoint on everyday objects and interactions that we all take for granted, and twist them into truly mesmerising and inspirational tales that will leave the reader caught off guard and permanently second guessing potential outcomes. For example, what would happen if attending a job interview you committed a murder, or discovered that the recent operation you had resulting in being given the transplanted brain of a serial killer?

As well as the more abstract tales, this title is also filled with heartfelt stories filled with emotion and compassion, such as “Farwell Symphony”, where a dead composer’s final symphony is performed for the first time, and traditional stories that are told from an unusual perspective, such as in “The Last Words of Emanuel Prettyjohn”. Whatever the subject matter though, this book delivers a refreshing, enjoyable and riveting read.

One of the books greatest strengths is the quality of the writing – the incredible narrative immediately conjures up wonderful imagery and the easy to read style makes this book almost impossible to put down. Simply put, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this title and would have no hesitations recommending it to fans of abstract,exciting short stories.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Collection of Flash and Micro Fiction, 10 May 2013
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This review is from: Dot, Dash (Salt Modern Fiction) (Paperback)
Ranging from remote tribes in South America who measure success and happiness in yellow rubber ducks (A Plague of Yellow Plastic Ducks) to boiling frogs (Frogs) to the every day, Dot Dash has something for everyone. Bordering on the weird, and always ever so slightly abnormal, Pinnock makes you think whilst reading his stories, and for quite some time after as well.

One of my favourites was The Last Words of Emanuel Prettyjohn, the story about a mute boy. There are a lot of different characters in it, all with distinct voices: "He were a funny wee babby, that one." (Alison Fish, midwife), "Oh, I remember him all right. Bloody nuisance." (Harry Philpott, schoolteacher), "We all thought he was a bit of a freak, to be honest." (Jack Wilson, classmate). It was also very funny in parts and made me laugh out loud.

Another favourite was Proper Job, a micro fiction piece about shoes which made me chuckle (and sing a bad rendition of the Spandau Ballet song in my head on the way home from work).
Proper Job
"Get a proper job," said old man Blahnick. "Shoes will never make you rich." But young Manolo knew better. "Gold!" he thought. "Always believe in your sole."

Highly recommended for anyone who likes to read short, shorter and the very shortest of stories, preferably with a tendency towards the slightly peculiar.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Little Stories, Big Ideas, 8 April 2013
After ploughing through a string of four over-long and largely disappointing novels, Dot Dash turned out to be just what I needed. It's quite a slim book, weighing in at a shade under 200 pages, but it contains 58 stories. As implied by the title, these are arranged in sequence, with "dots" (very short stories, many of them small enough to fit the 140-character limit of a tweet) alternating with "dashes" (more traditionally sized short stories). The "dashes" tend not to extend over more than four or five pages, so - if you so desired - you could gulp down the entire selection in a relatively short space of time.

I've enjoyed many of Jonathan's stories online in recent years, and so it wasn't a surprise to find myself enjoying this book too. There were some old favourites - such as rZr and Napoleon, The Amazing Arnolfini and His Wife, and Advice re Elephants - but the majority of the stories were new to me. I have to say I got more from the dashes than from the dots, on the whole - microfiction is interesting (and I've tried it myself with varying results), but even when it's done particularly well it often seems more like a demonstration of the writer's skill and/or imagination than a genuine story with real depth. That said, there are some impressive examples throughout the book, and having them interspersed with the longer pieces produced an interesting effect - whenever I got to the end of a story, it proved almost impossible not to read the microstory that followed it, and more often than not I would then find myself reading the next story as well.

Reading this collection, I found myself thinking of Adam Marek's 'Instruction Manual for Swallowing', as there is the same sense here that you can never predict where the author is going from one story to another, and the only answer is to give in and follow wherever he leads. Neither author pays any attention to the invisible boundaries between genres, and the resulting collection is much richer, more varied, and interesting than the 'variations on a theme' you get with some anthologies. However, where I found Marek's stories had a frustrating tendency to peter out towards the end, Pinnock keeps a tighter hand on the reins and ensures the endings do justice to the leaps of imagination that get the story off the ground in the first place. There is plenty of humour, in both dots and dashes, but Jonathan's prose is equally sure-footed when tackling poignancy (see Return to Cairo or The Guitarist's Inheritance) or horror (the unsettling Nature's Banquet, for instance). Many of the stories occupy a curious middle-ground, funny-but-disturbing, sad-but-hopeful, stubbornly resistant to classification.

When you get to the end (and particularly if you're a writer), it's worth reading the Acknowledgements section, where the publishing and/or prizewinning history of the stories is revealed. Almost all have earned their stripes in competitions, anthologies, magazines, and online publications, and it's easy to imagine Dot Dash becoming a set text for any writer looking to address the tricky question of exactly how you go about getting a judge or editor to notice your story among everybody else's. Jonathan Pinnock's answer appears to be simple: Write - write whatever and however you like, about anything that interests you. Don't worry about being one type of writer or another, don't let genre be a constraint, and - most importantly - don't forget to leave the reader grinning like a lunatic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Subtle, weird, beautifully written, exotic... in other words very, very good., 12 Mar 2013
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A mind-bending collection of short and very short stories from the able pen of a master short story writer. See them as a fashion show of the exotic and the perversely mundane, a clash of micro mini skirts and full length gowns each with their own transfixingly subtle characters working their ways through the sort of bizarre plots only a warped mind like Mr Pinnock's can conjure up. Every one is an avant-garde creation, a cat-walk delight; there are no off-the-peg's in this assured collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best short story collections I've read, 11 Feb 2013
By 
Curiosity Killed The Bookworm (Dorset, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Dot, Dash (Salt Modern Fiction) (Paperback)
From guerrilla artists taking revenge on a corporate world to a tribal culture formed around rubber ducks. A love story told in few sentences; day one, week one, month one and year one. The simple, consideration of taking an old relative to a place of joy, if imaginary. A future where the food chain has been compromised and meat is a luxury few can afford. Mathematical murders. All these things are more are told through this collection of short stories from Jonathan Pinnock.

These stories are alternating dots and dashes. The dots are only a few sentences at most, whilst the dashes are more consistent with an expected short story length. But those dots made me laugh! So did some of the dashes too. It is a little book that brought a smile to my face repeatedly and was a real joy to read.

At first glance, the stories are a bit weird. I like weird but Dot, Dash goes beyond weird for weird's sake. Many have a twist and those twists will make you think. Whilst the tableaus may go beyond the believable, very human characteristics are explored, pushing some of the characters to re-evaluate what makes them who they are. Some of the stories could be considered scary; such as Convalescence which was one of my favourites. A man is recovering from a medical procedure and is attending his psyche evaluation. He is having some side-affects...which turn out to reveal a terrifying truth.

It's one of the best short story collections I've read and one I think I will go back to repeatedly. I do find it hard to review short stories without giving too much away, so I'll just encourage you to give this one a go.

Review copy provided by author.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quality Street for the eyes, 11 Jan 2013
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Great to dip into and savour, short (sometimes unbelievably short) but thought provoking, amusing and sometimes scarily twisted.
Loved every one of them.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky stories that make you think, 16 Dec 2012
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Really enjoyed this, the 'dots' are short, one or two sentences with excellent plays on words. The 'dashes' are longer, great stories told in different voices from different places at different times. I particularly liked the dot Love Story, which charted a relationship from start to finish, but all were well written and the diversity of theme, style and setting kept the book fresh.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Easy and fun, 14 Dec 2012
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A very easy and fun read with a number of the stories really providing a satisfying ending, if you like short, contemporary fiction with a few dark laughs then you can't go wrong.
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Dot, Dash (Salt Modern Fiction)
Dot, Dash (Salt Modern Fiction) by Jonathan Pinnock (Paperback - 5 Nov 2012)
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