5/5 the best he has written
Have been reading a number of so-so books and didn’t feel the drive to write anything down. I guess it takes inexorable revulsion or unsuppressable awe for me to write anything.
I had initially thought I had read all of Archers short story collections, from his first “A quiver full of arrows” till his most recent “Thereby hangs a tail”. So it was a pleasant surprise to spot a collection I hadn’t yet read sitting on a shelf for half price at blossoms.
I blame my ADD for my love of short stories, No plethora of characters to keep track of, no family trees to keep in your head and most importantly no need to hold your breath while the author goes off on a digression which fills an entire book. ‘Harry Potter and the order of pheonix’ is a case in point.
A great short story keeps you ??guessing??. The details confuse you, the scene intrigues you, the characters make you suspicious and most importantly, in my opinion, the ending makes you wonder “what was I thinking?”. “To cut a long story short” has a number of stories that did this to me.
One thing that struck me about the collection, is its underlying theme of cynicism. Many of the stories portray the nastier (truer?) side of life. Relationships where water takes on the viscosity of molten lead when compared to blood, Marriages that end up in heaven (hell??) and criminals that not only get away but gain financial freedom. Definitely not bed time story material and will not build character in young adults. The timing of this book is also interesting. Published in 2000, the beginning of the financial meltdown, it seems to echo the sentiment of the age (or predict it?).
To cut a long story short, its worth a read.