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What You Make It by Michael Marshall Smith
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What You Make It (original 1999; edition 2012)

by Michael Marshall Smith

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268242,397 (3.93)4
Member:stoiki
Title:What You Make It
Authors:Michael Marshall Smith
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Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:short stories

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What You Make It by Michael Marshall Smith (1999)

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MMS is at his absolute best when writing short stories, delivering a new twist on the world with each. His tales are often haunting, and he is unafraid to plumb the darkest depths - the opening story, More Tomorrow, sets the tone perfectly with its unexpected change of tone and pace and killer climax, but my favourite is the less chilling and rather beautiful When God Lived in Kentish Town. Many of the tales scream screenplay, but the power of MMS' prose is its ability to coax your imagination into delivering the visual and visceral punches. A firm favourite, but not one for the light-hearted. ( )
  imyril | Apr 2, 2013 |
Disturbing.

17 short stories and 1 poem. Some of the stories are very short indeed, most have appeared in other publications but a few see print for the first time in this collection. Although none of the stories were specifically written for the book there is a theme running though the collection of death and coping with romance and rejection - hardly light topics! Many of the stories feature a youngish 30 something computer programmer, a different person each time, but very similar in many ways, pretty much always smokes - dating the stories - drinks and has trouble with women. The reader is forced to consider whether there is a biographical element to the stories, although hopefully the author doesn't get into quite the same nasty situations! The locations range from the US coast to various dingy parts of England.

In my edition at least, each of the icons on the front and highlighted on the story cover page relates obscurely to the topic of the story, which I found a neat gimmick. At times it is graphically violent, others merely disturbing or just weird. A lot of physic phenomena occur, without cause or explanation, and in the different stories the characters react differently to them, exploring perhaps the themes of what you do when your perceptions are distorted from reality. Of the stories themselves my favourite is the title story last in the compilation and badly in need of an 'of' “What you make it" which isn't quite as unprepossessingly bleak as some of the others, although it too is decidedly cynical in places, looking at the prospects of retirement homes in amusement parks. Other topics include the life of a football star, the problems of time travel and aging, nano-tech and several stories looking at death and the problems men have with women.

Well written, attention grabbing stories, but too disturbingly depressing to be classed as enjoyable.
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  reading_fox | Apr 30, 2009 |
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