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Saturday, 17 September 2011

A marvellous book of short stories

People Tell Me Things by David Finkle - this is not my usual sort of reading by any means. It is by an American writer and the stories are set in the literary and art world of New York. But something appealed to me about it and I accepted the review copy I was offered a few weeks ago.

I am really glad I did. The stories are some of the best I have read for many years. They are full of compassion for the human condition and gently humorous. The amusement does not arise from poking fun at the foibles of the characters but springs naturally from the situations and descriptions. There is a wamth and compassion which is lacking in so much writing this days. I found it really enjoyable to read an author who clearly loves people for their personalities.

The stories left me with the feeling I was eavesdropping on real life but not in a voyeuristic way. Small everyday actions have unforeseen consequences and repercussions. Characters think they know what is going on and then find the situation isn't as they believed it to be and the piece of the jigsaw they hold does not belong to the jigsaw they thought they had. The dialogue is realistic, the characters are believable and idiosyncratic and the situations could translate to almost any milieu because human behaviour is universal.

It is difficult to give a flavour of these stories because they are so different from anything I've read. They leave me with a warm feeling that there are still people left in the world who don't want to find amusement in cutting people down to size or dwelling on extreme sex and violence to the exclusion of the good qualities in human nature. These stories are unique in my opinion and deserve a wide audience.

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