Mini-Reviews: Short Story Collections Part 2

Daddy by Emma Cline

50984842Published by Random House, September 1st 2020

I am having troubles writing this review. I really enjoyed Cline’s debut novel and thought I would adore this – I thought her writing style (vague, filled with weird metaphors) that worked well for me in novel form would work even better in the short format; this, however, was really not the case. I found this disappointingly and surprisingly bad. The prose was clumsy, filled to the absolute brim with unecessary commas, and the stories felt unfocussed, as if the interesting stuff was happening just off page.

The stories, as the title alludes to, often feature father figures – and most of those were horrible. This could have worked for me as I often enjoy difficult characters in fiction but here I did not find them drawn vividly enough (or too vividly, having them remain vague might have worked better for me). The stories are, without exception very grim in a way that felt hopeless to me.

I did not get on with this at all.

My rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I Hold a Wolf by the Ears by Laura van den Berg

48126820._sy475_Published by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, July 28th 2020

I adored this! These stories were often sad, sometimes creepy, always impeccably structured. Van den Berg tells her stories unchronologically, often circularly, but always in a way that feels very deliberate and I appreciated this. The stories are told with a conscious darkness but never feel hopeless. Van den Berg focusses on characters that seem unmoored but are still anchored by something, often a sibling (I adore this!). Even when the subject matter is dark (and it is!) it never felt gratuitous or unnecessary to me.

I did enjoy the first half of the book more, but even the stories that did not completely work for me were never a chore to read. I am very happy to have two more short story collections of hers ahead of me as collections that work this well for me are rare.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

15 thoughts on “Mini-Reviews: Short Story Collections Part 2

    1. The collection really was a disappointment! Because like you, the writing style was what drew me to this book and I found it really baffling how little I enjoyed it.

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  1. Ah I am so sad about Cline’s collection. I really enjoyed Girls and definitely felt the same as you, that her style will work even better in short story format, so I was excited to pick the collection up. The other collection sounds awesome, I haven’t heard of it before but I will add it to my TBR!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great reviews! I liked The Girls enough that I was looking forward to this story collection, but it doesn’t sound worth picking up after all. Hopefully Cline will write another novel that appeals more in the future. But after seeing you and Sarah enjoy I Hold A Wolf By the Ears so much I’ve added that one to my TBR! It sounds excellent!

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    1. I really cannot recommend Cline’s collection. I genuinely do not think it is particularly well-written and when it comes to short stories I find the prose is super important. And yes, the van den Berg is SO good!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am very looking forward to hearing your thoughts on I Hold A Wolf By The Ears because I cannot tell whether you’ll like it or not. Because it should be your type of short stories. But the stories reminded me of Lauren Groff’s stories.

      Liked by 1 person

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