Touchy Subjects: Stories Kindle â Touchy Subjects:

Touchy Subjects: Stories Okay not my favourite of Donoghue's work I absolutely adore Short Story collections by fantastic authors I've loved Ms Donoghue's writing since I first picked up a copy of Slammerkin all those years ago and I was thrilled when I stumbled across this little collectionThere are 19 stories tucked into this little gem Some are better than others in my opinion but that made it all the enjoyable The characters varied moving from a high powered business woman who's willing to do anything it takes to have a child to a bitter crawfisherman who has a crisis of faith Topics range from sex to religion to death and she handles them all with eual aplombSome stuck with me than others the ones which contained a glimmer of my life or experience Specifically WriteOr was probably my favorite in the entire collection Every single thing that was said or done I've seen Do They Know It's Christmas? gave me some laughs too for entirely different reasonsI absolutely recommend the book It's wonderful that her skill with the novel translates to the short story as well In this sparkling collection of nineteen stories the bestselling author of Slammerkin returns to contemporary affairs exposing the private dilemmas that result from some of our most public controversies A man finds God and finally wants to father a child only his wife is now forty two years old A coach's son discovers his sexuality on the football field A roommate's bizarre secret liberates a repressed young woman From the unforeseen conseuences of a polite social lie to the turmoil caused by the hair on a woman's chin Donoghue dramatizes the seemingly small acts upon which our lives often turn Many of these stories involve animals and what they mean to us or babies and whether to have them; some replay biblical plots in modern contexts With characters old young straight gay and simply confused Donoghue dazzles with her range and her ability to touch lightly but delve deeply into the human condition Donoghue takes the prickly subjects often the ones that need words of political correctness and the painful embarrassing shameful subjects and gives us wonderful characters replete with their flaws hopes and dreams The first is the story of the woman returning to Ireland from the US trying to get pregnant with the help of a not too big jar of sperm from her best friend’s husband Another The Cost of Things has the escalating cost of a couple’s vet’s bills for their cat threatening the couple’s relationship Perhaps predictably one of the nineteen stories I liked best is ‘WritOR’ where a minor writer takes a position of writer in residence at a small college Here Donoghue lets her imagination rip I hope it’s not actual experience The girl who wrote poetry and when asked about her favourites said she doesn’t pay attention to ’who actually wrote’ the poem She doesn’t re draft so as ‘not to mess with the magic’ of her appalling poetry including ‘cactus flowers longing for the monsoon’ and worries about sending poems to magazines in case the editor steals them and publishes them under his own name The students wide age range and occupation never use a dictionary ‘the drunk fell down unconscientious’ and one decides to self publish without understanding what a verb is Some never write a word but feel they have a destiny to fulfil The Writer’s optimism turns to compassion for these would bes these social rejects then transmogrifies into anger and despair and finally to just listening Wry clever funny and insightful stories I hadn’t read any Donoghue so thought a collection of short stories would be a good introduction and safer than investing in a novel burned by Sarah Waters I won’t assume a mainstream writer will necessarily be goodThese are terrific If there had been lesbian stories it would have gotten the full five stars I was disappointed by that at first so flipped through and read all the lesbian ones first Charmed I went back to read the rest and found no lack of interest Even the ones with only a male character are delightful Oh and she breaks a “cardinal rule” by switching POVs—in a short story This is a book to be examined by those who wish to write and write well See when you know what you are doing you can break rules In this case she did it with one POV in roman and the other in italic And here’s another thing she pulls off in the story—we know what each woman is thinking Does that ruin the tension? No A cover blurb from the New York Time Book Review claims her “greatest talent is for humor” It is a subtle humor I found myself smiling or chuckling often but might not have characterized these as humor stories But she can take the absurd and make it feel normal then take normal and point out its absurdities There’s a funny one about a woman traveling alone on a cave tour in France with a group of “Specials” and the man who holds her hand And another of a woman trying to get pregnant Not the kind of stories that are meant to change your life but maybe your perspective for a few minutes And a good lesson for me these stories really are short 2000 5000 words She packs in only the information you need but everything you need In most cases we know very little about the characters yet these are fully fleshed stories Oh and “WritOr” is alone worth the full cover price Consumed by debt while waiting for his Great Novel to make him rich “the writer” takes a job as a writer in residence at a small community college Week after week he deals with the worst of the worst unable to get through slowly decomposing down to their level Then he finds a true gem Naturally it doesn’t go well And since I’m obsessed with covers I decided this one needed some examination Two girls on a swing It took a while before I noticed they are both wearing roller skates OK that’s odd Then just now it occurred to me that one is looking right into the crotch of the other Anyway very highly recommended Some fair some excellent a few really movinga collection of short stories by the inimitable ED If you liked the movie The Kids are All Right try this set of short stories about relationships and families by Irish author Emma Donoghue Divided into categories like birth and death this collection includes two stories that were so touching and poignant that I almost couldn't stand it in one a woman finds herself accidentally browsing in the maternity section of a department store and flustered pretends that she is pregnant when an elderly gentleman congratulates her In the other a woman vacationing alone after a bad breakup visits a prehistoric cave in France where she takes a tour along with a group of mentally disabled adults This is my first time reading Emma Donoghue I have no burning desire to seek out of her work None of these short stories engaged me in any significant way The early stories were particularly lackluster In a month I won't recall a single one Given the richness of the subject matter it's unfortunate the author didn't do than touch the surface She comes up with some nice metaphors though Had this out of the library for a while dipping into it off and on hoping I'd maybe get into it Answer no The stories feel totally mundane non revelatory They don't have the punchy power that a short story should have in my opinion and to my taste And now there's a book I want in at the library and I need to make space on my card 'bye Emma Donoghue This book is made up of short stories about ordinary people caught in unexpected situations and how they react to them Filled with self deprecating humour the stories poke innocent fun at the cute and loveable characters who find themselves in helpless circumstances and awkwardly fumble to cope with or escape their predicamentsFor example in ‘expecting’ a stranger misheard that a woman is pregnant In that fleeting moment the woman thinks it is not necessary to correct the perception of someone whom she’s not likely to meet again When she repeatedly runs into the same man she finds it harder and harder to clear up the misunderstanding and ends up having to enter into a charade about her conditionIn ‘good deed’ a man accidentally notices a homeless man lying injured on the street stops to check on him and is unable to bring himself to walk away even though his logical mind regrets his stopping I love the way his self consciousness is brought to light through little details like the man placing his coat on the homeless man then wanting to take it back when he himself feels ill but does not dare to do so for fear that passersby would think he is stealing from the homelessIn ‘WritOr’ a small time writer takes on a job as writer in residence at an inconseuential college He meets a gamut of aspiring writers who seem to lack in eual measures self awareness and talent In response to one of his would bes saying “No matter how many people have told me I’m an amazingly talented person I can’t uite believe it” “The writer nodded unable to believe it either” ClassicThe magic of these stories is that they describe very normal average Joe sort of behaviour and thus sound so honest and believable It makes me laugh at the characters while half aware that I’m also laughing at myself The stories are so successful that I wonder if Donoghue has lived her whole life in a state of perpetual awkwardness and embarrassment or if she had simply made it a point of collecting interesting dinner party anecdotes


About the Author: Emma Donoghue

Grew up in Ireland 20s in England doing a PhD in eighteenth century literature since then in Canada Best known for my novel film and play ROOM also other contemporary and historical novels and short stories non fiction theatre and middle grade novels


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