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The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories (1989)

by Malcolm Bradbury (Editor)

Other authors: Kingsley Amis (Contributor), Martin Amis (Contributor), Beryle Bainbridge (Contributor), J.G. Ballard (Contributor), Julian Barnes (Contributor)29 more, Samuel Beckett (Contributor), Elizabeth Bowen (Contributor), Angela Carter (Contributor), John Fowles (Contributor), William Golding (Contributor), Graham Greene (Contributor), Ted Hughes (Contributor), Kazuo Ishiguro (Contributor), Gwen John (Contributor), B.S. Johnson (Contributor), Doris Lessing (Contributor), David Lodge (Contributor), Malcolm Lowry (Contributor), Adam Mars-Jones (Contributor), Ian McEwan (Contributor), Edna O'Brien (Contributor), V.S. Pritchett (Contributor), Jean Rhys (Contributor), Salman Rushdie (Contributor), Alan Sillitoe (Contributor), Clive Sinclair (Contributor), Muriel Spark (Contributor), Graham Swift (Contributor), Emma Tennant (Contributor), Dylan Thomas (Contributor), Rose Tremain (Contributor), William Trevor (Contributor), Fay Weldon (Contributor), Angus Wilson (Contributor)

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395355,866 (3.54)5
This anthology contains gems from 34 of Britain's outstanding contemporary writers. It includes stories of love and crime, stories touched with comedy and the supernatural, stories set in London, Los Angeles, Bucharest and Tokyo.

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If you're amused by stories centred on women's breasts (David Lodge) or about compulsive masturbation (Martin Amis), if you'd be intrigued by an author's language deficit ( Malcom Lowry), i if you think writing is nothing without hard-gained metaphors and the personal touch* (example from Angela Carter biut a fair few of the stories have those qualities) , if you appreciate reminders that even the most competent woman can be a victim imprisoned by a man's sharp glance and failure to share housework (Fay Weldon's tale of elective martyrdom) and that Chinese people dress in silly clothes and are incapable of speaking English properly** (Malcolm Bradbury), well, then, this is the book for you.
I read at least the first few pages, & often all of each story but gave up on one because it was unreadable and on several others because the writing inspired no confidence in the author and/or because they bored me so. Only one of the stories seemed in any way original (and that, not by a British author), some were enjoyable, and none was memorable.

Malcom Bradbury was also the editor of this book. And as should be apparent from the quote below he obviously shares the not-uncommon casual English attitude of superiority to other peoples. Not surprising then that he he appropriates non-British authors from a formerly-occupied country for the anthology. To call Beckett, Edna O'Brien, William Trevor British is not just wrong: it's wrong and offensive.

*Of walking in a city at night: 'And I moved through these expressionist perspectives in my black dress as though I was the creator of all and of myself, too, in a black dress, in love, crying, walking through the city in the third person singular my own herione, as though the world had stretched out from my eye lke spokes from a sensitized hub that galvanized all to life when I looked at it.'

** 'The little oriental who met him stands there, in shortie pyjamas. "You must close lindow . Water coming . . . into my loom. . . Also, offplint of article for loo to lead." ' ( I must acknowledge though that 'loo' for 'you' though is admirable writersmanship,)
  bluepiano | Sep 7, 2022 |
I started reading this in September 2018. I read a few stories at the time, then put it down and read the odd one in between other books, then forgot about it entirely until picking it up again a few days ago. But I have finally finished it!⁣

The stories are by post-war authors, with some big names on the list. I found it to be a bit of a mixed bag (although I only have the dimmest memories of the stories I read early on).⁣

My favourite stories were those by Alan Sillitoe, Dylan Thomas, Edna O'Brien, Fay Weldon, Salman Rushdie, Emma Tennant, Angela Carter and Beryl Bainbridge. ⁣

I started reading then skipped a few and actively disliked a few more (both Kingsley and Martin Amis fell into these categories). I would say that men having affairs/being horrible to their wives are rather overrepresented in the collection, and these were the ones I didn't really get on with.⁣

It's a fairly interesting anthology overall, but not my favourite! At least I've discovered a few authors whose other works I would like to read. ( )
  mooingzelda | Apr 22, 2020 |
University of Edinburgh, 1997.
  housewives-at-home | Feb 14, 2007 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bradbury, MalcolmEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amis, KingsleyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Amis, MartinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bainbridge, BeryleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballard, J.G.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barnes, JulianContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Beckett, SamuelContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bowen, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Carter, AngelaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fowles, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Golding, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greene, GrahamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hughes, TedContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ishiguro, KazuoContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
John, GwenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, B.S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lessing, DorisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lodge, DavidContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lowry, MalcolmContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mars-Jones, AdamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McEwan, IanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
O'Brien, EdnaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pritchett, V.S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rhys, JeanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rushdie, SalmanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sillitoe, AlanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sinclair, CliveContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Spark, MurielContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Swift, GrahamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tennant, EmmaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Thomas, DylanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tremain, RoseContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Trevor, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Weldon, FayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wilson, AngusContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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This anthology contains gems from 34 of Britain's outstanding contemporary writers. It includes stories of love and crime, stories touched with comedy and the supernatural, stories set in London, Los Angeles, Bucharest and Tokyo.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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