Manslaughter And Other Tears

All posts tagged Manslaughter And Other Tears

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Hot Dog Stand by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Published July 26, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s Hot Dog Stand all about?:

Hot Dog Stand is about a woman whom after witnessing a horrific accident earlier in the day ends up precipitating her own worst possible day ever.

What did I think?:

I came to this story with HUGE expectations after reading and adoring the previous story in the collection, The Butcher Of Meena Creek. Hot Dog Stand is still a great read and a very quick little story to devour but it didn’t quite grab my attention as much as Butcher Of Meena Creek did. However, it’s still a damn fine piece of fiction and I can definitely appreciate the talent of Dianne Gray as a short story writer and, like before, can clearly see why these stories are described as “award winning.” They certainly have something extra to recommend them and you can really see the difference from when you read another short story that is sadly lacking this extra little bite.

Okay, so our protagonist is an unnamed woman who witnesses a terrible hit and run where a stranger is killed by a maniacal driver in a blue van. The poor man happens to be holding a hot dog at the time and it appears to be the only thing our narrator can focus on. She was propelled into a shop window and suffered a bleeding nose but she was standing right next to the victim when it happened and it could have quite easily been her. The accident traumatises her considerably and she is looking forward to getting home and getting some much needed sympathy from her husband Phil.

Unfortunately, Phil is not a good egg at all. Our narrator realises that she should have listened to her mother when she tried to warn her about men like Phil and isn’t it always the case that our mum is always right about things like that? Our narrator is about to find out the hard way that Phil doesn’t care for her, her feelings or indeed anyone else in the way he should but it is the way she reacts that is very surprising. Maybe it is the accident that morning that has messed with her head, perhaps it is because she has suspected something is not quite right for a while now – who knows? Absolute bedlam ensues in the most chaotic and crazy way you could never imagine and was certainly an unexpected turn in the narrative for me personally. And the ending? Well, I just had to smile.

This is one of those short stories where you really can’t give too much away so I’m hoping I’ve been annoyingly vague enough! From where it first started, as a witness to a fatal car accident to where it ends up…. the turn of events in just a few pages was amazing and thoroughly enjoyable and thrilling. You really feel for our slightly naive narrator who has had possibly one of the worst days ever that it’s possible for a person to have but it’s the way she reacts to her situation that completely blows your mind. Loving this collection so far!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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NEXT SHORT STORY: Blue Moon by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

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Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part Three

Published July 8, 2017 by bibliobeth

Image from https://www.standoutbooks.com/how-publish-short-story/

Hello everyone and welcome to Part Three of my Short Stories Challenge this year. Part Two was again, very interesting with some really memorable stories read, namely The Birds by Daphne du Maurier and Gallowberries by Angela Slatter which were both fantastic and HIGHLY recommended. Here’s to finding some more great short stories and authors in Part Three!

An Anxious Man by James Lasdun from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night.

Word Processor Of The Gods by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Hot Dog Stand by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

Blue Moon by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles.

Master by Angela Carter from the collection The Story: Love, Loss & The Lives of Women.

Possum by Matthew Holness from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

The Adventure Of The Noble Bachelor by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

The Heart Goes Last: Positron, Episode Four by Margaret Atwood (stand-alone).

The White Doe by Rosy Thornton from the collection Sandlands.

The Light Through The Window by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky.

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – The Butcher Of Meena Creek by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears

Published February 11, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s The Butcher Of Meena Creek all about?:

The Butcher Of Meena Creek follows the story of Maggie who is cooking some food at a town gathering and preparing to leave her abusive husband.

What did I think?: 

I’ve enjoyed the stories I’ve read in Manslaughter And Other Tears so far but The Butcher Of Meena Creek has to be my favourite by a mile. It really reminded me of a Roald Dahl short story in the way it was written and the little sting in the tail (or should that be tale?) by the exciting final lines. I can certainly see why it won a award, I finished it absolutely enthralled and immediately wanted to go back to the beginning and start all over again.

I don’t really want to talk too much about the plot for fear of spoilers. In fact, it’s best to go into this story knowing as little as possible but I’ll tell you the bare bones of the story. The story is told from the perspective of our main character, Maggie who is making some lasagne for a town gathering. The people in the town, including a hideous woman called Loretta treat Maggie with scorn and derision and like to make fun of the fact that she is in an abusive relationship. We soon learn that the last time Maggie made lasagne, her husband went crazy and she took the brunt of his anger, physically speaking. Larry is due to arrive at the gathering any minute and the townspeople are almost hugging themselves in glee so that they can all witness the fallout they are certain is going to occur.

Immediately, I felt sorry for Maggie who bears the evidence of physical abuse by her husband, clear for everyone to see. Despite the cruelty of the people in the town, she holds her head up high and continues to make the lasagne for everyone to enjoy. She is aware that her husband doesn’t look on lasagne as “real” food but she has a plan for getting away from him for good and I admired her determination to separate herself from him. Oh my goodness though, I was not expecting the turn that the story ended up taking and I was delighted (and shocked) with the end result. If you read one short story this year, please make it this one and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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NEXT SHORT STORY: The Wishing Tree by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

 

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Part One

Published January 7, 2017 by bibliobeth

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Its a new year and time for some more short stories. I usually do short stories in three month blocks however I’ve been struggling to keep up with this so instead of calling this post January to March I shall call it Part One and see how I get on! This is what I’ll be reading in the first half of 2017:

The Raft by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

The Butcher Of Meena Creek by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears

The Wishing Tree by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Faithful Lovers by Margaret Drabble from the collection The Story: Love Loss & The Lives Of Women

Double Room by Ramsey Campbell from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page

The Adventure Of The Engineer’s Thumb by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Erase Me: Positron, Episode Three – Margaret Atwood (stand-alone)

On The Banks Of Table River: (Planet Lucina, Andromeda Galaxy, AD 2319) by Rajesh Parameswaran from the collection I Am An Executioner: Love Stories

The Passenger by Kevin Brockmeier from the collection Things That Fall From The Sky

Fleeing Complexity by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Short Stories Challenge – Still Life by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears

Published May 9, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s Still Life all about?:

Still Life is the story of two sisters who when discussing a horrific event in their past, appear to each have completely different memories of it.

What did I think?:

This review has taken me so long to write as, to be honest, I’m struggling a bit with what to say about it! I’m very aware of keeping my reviews as spoiler-free as possible as I’m not a fan of having any read ruined for me before I’ve had a chance to experience it myself. This is one of those stories where I’m finding it difficult to write about for fear of unleashing a major spoiler and I believe the less you know about it the better.

So what can I say about it? Well, it’s the story of two sisters, Di and Sam who are sitting by the sea and talking about a major traumatic event in their lives. They promised each other that they wouldn’t discuss it again but it’s one of those terrible things that cannot be easily forgotten and they both find a therapeutic way to let their feelings out about it. Di chooses to write about what happened and Sam decides to paint a picture. However, they are both having trouble with the other’s artistic talent – both girls believing that the other has got the sequence of events wrong and is telling an inaccurate version of what actually happened.

What I wasn’t expecting with this story was how dark it actually was. When it begins, the author lulls you into a false sense of security, believing that this is a “nice” story of two sisters having fun on a beach. It is far from that and the action kicks in surprisingly quickly. By the second page, when Sam prompts her sister Di on the exact words she should be saying (what really happened on that night according to Sam) it was certainly an unexpected shock to the system. The story immediately morphs into something else, something a lot darker and more sinister than your average memory shared between loved ones.

I’ve read this story a total of four times now in my fight to decide what to say about it and I find something new to analyse every time I read it. I think readers who enjoy a little bit of the macabre will definitely appreciate it but be warned, it’s not for the faint-hearted. At times, I did feel that I wanted more information from the author as it seems like a hell of a lot is left unsaid but I also believe that’s part of the magic of this particular story – much is left up to your own imagination, and mine is particularly vivid!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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NEXT SHORT STORY: Notes From The House Spirits by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

 

 

Short Stories Challenge 2016 – January to March

Published January 9, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Image from http://quotes.lifehack.org/quote/ali-smith/short-stories-consume-you-faster-theyre-connected/

Hooray for a new year and more short stories! This is what I’ll be reading for the first three months of 2016.

Week beginning 4th January 2016

Duet by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales

Week beginning 11th January 2016

The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer by John Ajvide Lindqvist from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Week beginning 18th January 2016

Dreams In The Witch-House by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 25th January 2016

Enough Of This Shit Already by Tony Black from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 1st February 2016

Stars Of Motown Shining Bright by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 8th February 2016

Charm For A Friend With A Lump by Helen Simpson from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 15th February 2016

Paranoid: A Chant by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 22nd February 2016

Still Life by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears

Week beginning 29th February 2016

Notes From The House Spirits by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles

Week beginning 7th March 2016

How I Finally Lost My Heart by Doris Lessing from the collection The Story: Love, Loss And The Lives Of Women

Week beginning 14th March 2016

The Graveless Doll Of Eric Mutis by Karen Russell from the collection Vampires In The Lemon Grove

Week beginning 21st March 2016

The Adventure Of The Speckled Band by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes

Week beginning 28th March 2016

Choke Collar: Positron, Episode Two by Margaret Atwood (stand-alone)

Short Stories Challenge – Corrugated Dreaming by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears

Published November 8, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s Corrugated Dreaming all about?:

Corrugated Dreaming is the story of a woman in prison, reflecting back on her life and the crime she committed to put her in the situation in which she now finds herself.

What did I think?:

I love starting a short story collection such as this one where I know practically nothing about the writer or her work, especially when the first story in the collection is as beautifully worded and presented like this one is. When we first meet our character she is in prison and she is looking back on a life that has been far from easy. The first thing we learn about her is that she is mute but she hasn’t always been this way. Her early childhood is described as the happiest time of her life where she played with her older brother Johnny in a scrapyard which acts as their garden filled with dis-used vehicles and corrugated iron. Her mother we are told, lives with a demon called Reg who is clearly a drunk and beats her mother in front of the children, one time throwing her into the iron in the yard.

Our character remembers that day very clearly as it is after this incident that Social Services arrives to take the children away and it is the last time that she sees her brother Johnny, who is the closest person in her life and the devastation of their separation is also the last time that she talks. Heart-breakingly, she is told that her cough is actually pneumonia and she is ashamed of her stomach which looks like: “five years of bad gas,” representing the very obvious neglect of her and Johnny under her mother and Reg’s care. Her life after this just gets worse and worse, being shipped out to various sets of foster parents but none whom she remembers as well as the last set, the God-fearing Maxwells who actually put the fear of God into her! They take great issue with her skin colour and she feels she has to make up for her entire culture being so full of sin and wickedness.

At school things are just as bad for her with a headmaster that takes a repulsive pleasure in punishing her often. After finding out some unbelievably horrid news concerning her brother Johnny it is no surprise that she continues her life in silence, after all what is there to be said about such an appalling life? I was surprised however by the turn the story took and the actual crime that she committed. I won’t say any more about that but it’s one of the saddest stories I’ve come across in my short stories challenge and I will probably be thinking about it for a long time to come. I’m just so glad I came across this writer, her use of language is phenomenal and she certainly paints a dramatic and spell-binding picture in a short space of time. She reeled me in with her poetic phrases and I loved the way in which corrugated iron is often referred to by the character as she compares events in her life (past and present) with something that plays a part in the happiest memory of her otherwise bleak childhood. Cannot wait for the next story in this collection – the bar has certainly been set high.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT SHORT STORY: Beachcombing by Lucy Wood from the collection Diving Belles