Sebastian Shakespeare

Everyday Tales

Our Story Begins: New and Selected Stories

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Bloomsbury 400pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

Our Story Begins is an apt title for Tobias Wolff’s latest anthology of short stories. His openings are particularly arresting and he knows how to bait the narrative hook, from the bold set-up in ‘Two Boys and a Girl’ (‘Gilbert saw her first’) to the plangent prologue of ‘Firelight’ (‘My mother swore we’d never live in a boardinghouse again, but circumstances did not allow her to keep her promise’). Wolff was one of forty-four writers featured in the Granta Book of the American Short Story published last year. In his introduction, editor Richard Ford compared short stories to ‘daring little instruments’ which offer us ‘something big’ in minimal time and space. Having read Wolff’s new collection I would say his stories are less like little instruments – that makes them sound far too clinical and dispassionate – than tightly knotted flower buds which unfurl before your eyes. You never know what wonders might be revealed. 

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