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Madame Zero: 9 Stories by Sarah Hall

Madame Zero: 9 Stories (2017)

by Sarah Hall

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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
(I've been awaiting the LibraryThing Early Reviewers copy to arrive so finally found a copy in the public library to read.) This is a strong collection of short stories with 3 or 4 standouts. Many are set in dystopian or surreal surroundings and are exploring feminine topics. Wives, mothers, girls, pregnant or transfigured, are impacted in various ways by a relationship, nature, illness, or disaster. I thought the first and last stories were the most memorable and reflect the striking, unmistakable talent of Sarah Hall. ( )
  KatyBee | Aug 26, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"What can be decided in a few moments that will not be questioned for a lifetime?"

Sarah Hall's MADAME ZERO is a wildly original and imaginative collection. The stories are dark and unsettling, and often very funny indeed. You're never comfortable reading these stories, and I value that.

I'd previously read the two award-winning stories that bookend the collection: "Mrs. Fox" and "Evie." Otherwise this was my first experience with Hall's short fiction.

Not all of the stories were entirely successful for me, but each one had strong writing and an unexpected delight or two. Oddly, perhaps, given her reputation, I was surprised to find that the high-concept and fabulist stories were the ones that didn't work as well for me. Some of them felt contrived and perhaps too clever by half.

I preferred her stories that dealt with the awkwardness and sadness of everyday life, with characters that were fully realized and deeply human. "Luxury Hour" is a terrific story in which a recent first-time mother has a chance encounter with a former lover. And the heartbreaking and funny "Goodnight Nobody" walks us through a young girl's unusual family life. Give me these "normal" stories from Hall every time over her overtly shocking and bizarre ones. But maybe that's just me.

All in all, I enjoyed this fine collection very much, and I won't forget some of these stories any time soon. Strongly recommended. ( )
  Wickabod | Jul 24, 2018 |
A mixture of love, life and death combined with some animal symbolism, fascinating characters and great story telling. A must read! ( )
  BALE | Jan 2, 2018 |
This is a diverse collection of short stories showing Hall’s rang of styles. In this respect it was impressive. I think the blurb from reviews on the back cover are a bit misleading, though, in talking about these being ‘darkly erotic’ tales, the last one, ‘Evie’, being the only one with a sexual content and that was more of a case history than anything else.

In fact, case history, now that I think about it, more appropriately describes these stories, one actually being called a case study. There is something clinical in some of the accounts, something that keeps the reader at a distance from the main characters.

I liked quite a few of Hall’s turns of phrase. Three examples from ‘Wilderness’: ‘His face was almost skull, and there was a hanging garden of scrotum-like skin on the side of his neck’, ‘His eyes were bright without any kind of reason, and slid off everything as soon as making contact’ and, in response to a character complaining about people’s extravagance, another character calls him ‘a pedantic dick-swing’ whatever that is!

I think my favourite was ‘Later, his ghost’, an apocalyptic account of a man striving for normality on an earth where everything was violently wind-swept. All the references to the unnamed ‘The Tempest’ shows how much he wanted to believe that life-ending conditions could be changed by some Prospero type intervention. ( )
  evening | Dec 8, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm a fan of John Cheever, and before Cheever, Ernest Hemingway, and before Hemingway, Emile Zola--and what all these writers did was to tell a story that in some discernible sense TOLD A STORY. Their stories had beginnings and middles and ends. And Sarah Hall does nothing of the kind. Nevertheless these 'short stories' are fully formed. They aren't fragments. They aren't even 'experimental' in the sense that the term is usually used. Her short fiction published here left me changed for having read it. Even though they don't follow any tradition of linear storytelling, I was never bored--I was rapt. ( )
1 vote poingu | Aug 1, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062657062, Hardcover)

From one of the most accomplished British writers working today, the Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author of The Wolf Border, comes a unique and arresting collection of short fiction that is both disturbing and dazzling.

Sarah Hall has been hailed as "one of the most significant and exciting of Britain’s young novelists" (The Guardian), a writer whose "intelligence and ambition are thrilling to behold" (BookForum). Her work has been acclaimed as "amazing . . . terrific and original" (Washington Post). In this collection of nine works of short fiction, she uses her piercing insight to plumb the depth of the female experience and the human soul.

A husband’s wife transforms into a vulpine in "Mrs. Fox," winner of the BBC Short Story Prize. In "Case Study 2, " A social worker struggles with a foster child raised in a commune. A new mother runs into an old lover in "Luxury Hour." In incandescent prose, full of rich observations and striking clarity, Hall has composed nine wholly original pieces—works of fiction that will resonate long after the final page is turned.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 25 Apr 2017 12:57:13 -0400)

A collection of nine stories explores the human soul and female experience in such tales as the award-winning, "Mrs. Fox," in which a married woman transforms into a vulpine; and "Case Study 2," in which a social worker struggles with a foster child raised in a commune.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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