Screwtop Thompson by Magnus Mills

I wasn’t supposed to be looking at the books in the library as I have so many of my own to read, I was just taking some back, but you know what it’s like, I saw an interesting looking book by an author that I know a lot of bloggers had been reading – and I was caught. Well it’s a slim volume of short stories and I like those, they’re especially good at bedtime.

Even better I thought as I read on the front page

‘Like P.G. Wodehouse, Mills has created his own deeply English world, rich in comic possibilities’ Independent

Like all adverts there’s always one word which is the operative one and in that case it’s ‘possibilities’ – but they never materialised.
I read the first four of the stories and gave up, that’s almost unheard of for me, but they were annoying me too much. I complained to Jack that the stories didn’t do anything, say anything, no twists, no humour, no entertainment, just words which ended abruptly and left you with nothing to mull over.

Ah! That’s modern short stories for you. Have you not read A.L. Kennedy’s? Hers are the same – said Jack.

Dear God said Moi – what’s the world coming to, where are the W.Somerset Maugham, D.du Maurier, Saki, Wodehouse, Diana Athill, E.F.Benson, Katherine Mansfield or Sarah Orne Jewetts of today?

I’ve always admired short story writing, it seems to me that a lot of skill is required to tell an interesting story with engaging characters concisely and have a surprise or two towards the end. Is it a dead art? Are all modern short story tellers pointless? I hope not.

As my friend Joan would say ‘What fresh hell is this?’

I just say ‘Modern life is rubbish!’

6 thoughts on “Screwtop Thompson by Magnus Mills

    • Debbie,
      Yes, it’s my own fault and looking on the bright side I can now take it back, averting my gaze from the books. I borrowed a novel by the same author though – should I give it a go? Hmm!

  1. It could have been worse – you could have bought the book.

    “the stories didn’t do anything, say anything, no twists, no humour, no entertainment, just words which ended abruptly and left you with nothing to mull over.” – those are the reasons I’m not keen on short stories

    • Margaret,
      That’s true, I would really have been kicking myself if I had bought it.

      It’s weird, the art of short story writing seems to have changed completely over the years. Now it’s just an uninteresting ramble for no good reason.

  2. You know I believe that sincerely, each day presenting a new opportunity for disappointment and disaster, but Dorothy Parker is the one who put it so well.

    Short stories were fine when I was discovering literature. I loved de Maupassant and Isak Dinesen and M. R. James and Poe. But now, when I read mainly to escape into someone else’s life or explore some other time or location, I want a full length book, one that will take me away for more than a few minutes.

    • Joan,
      I know what you mean but I did like them for when I knew I wouldn’t have much time to settle down to reading, or would be falling asleep soon. I think I’ll stick to the old ones in future though!

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