Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Speaking with the Angel

A collection of short stories compiled and edited by Nick Hornby. I don’t know why I continuously try to read short story collections. I rarely finish them, and rarely enjoy them. Maybe it’s because I need to get more invested in a story to enjoy it. I don’t like first impressions or quick meetings. Essentially that is what a short story is, a quick first impression of a story or author. Sure, they are complete stories with beginnings, middles, and ends just shorter. It’s not that I crave more, it’s just I don’t enjoy them as much as a really meaty novel. It’s like having a dinner full of appetizers; it’s just not as satisfying.

But I read it anyway. I got Speaking with the Angels at a used book store for only a dollar (sweet deal, right) and I thought I’d give it a try. I like many of the authors who contributed to the books. Hornby, Dave Eggers, Zadie Smith, and Helen Fielding included. Plus there is a story written by Colin Firth. I didn’t know he could write (I mean I knew he played an author in Love, Actually but those are not transferable skills). Plus the stores had really fun sounding titles (Nipple Jesus, Luckybitch, Catholic Guilt (You know You Love It) among them.

Some stories were pretty good. I liked the one by Dave Eggers entitled “After I Was Thrown Into the River and Before I Drowned.” It’s about a dog, told from the dogs perspective. It was interesting and creative. The one by Colin Firth was good too. It was told from the perspective of a young boy about “The Department of Nothing.”

There were also bad stories. One called “The Slave” was so boring I stopped reading it part way through. Also “Catholic Guilt” was written in British slang, in what I’m taking to be a Scottish Accent. And being not British I was taken completely out of the story which I probably otherwise would have enjoyed. Mostly the stories were just dull and not memorable. I don’t remember what they were about, let alone if I liked them.

If you like short stories then I say, definitely read this book. Otherwise, I say avoid it. If you’re like me and you enjoy these authors then just get their actual books. The book however is for a good cause. Nick Hornby compiled the book to benefit a school for autistic children in London. A dollar for every book goes directly to the school. Get the book for no other reason than that.

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