‘Sudden Traveller’ is Sarah Hall’s third story collection. Featuring her signature themes of identity, eroticism, and existential quest, these new stories travel far afield in location and ambition. From Turkish forests to rain-drenched Cumbrian villages, Hall’s characters walk, drive, dream, and fly, trying to reconcile themselves with their journeys through life, death, and love. Science fiction meets folktale and philosophy meets mortality.
Marlene Wegener is on the run. She has stolen something from her husband, something priceless, irreplaceable. But she doesn’t get very far. When her car veers off a bleak midwinter road she takes refuge in the remote home of Simon Keller, a tough mountain man who lives alone with his demons. Here in her high mountain sanctuary, she begins to rekindle a sense of herself: tough, capable, no longer the trophy on a gangster’s arm. But Herr Wegener does not know how to forgive, and in his rage he makes a pact with the devil. The Trusted Man. He cannot be called off, he cannot be reasoned with and one way or another he will get the job done. Unless, of course, he’s beaten to it.
On the farm, some eggs are hatching. A flock of sweet ducklings are popping out. But one duckling looks different from all the others. Cast out and all alone, this odd duckling will need all her bravery and curiosity to survive. Her journey is a search for belonging, but what she finds is the right to be different.
Nia has met the man she wants to marry. Marcus is kind, clever and handsome, with a beard so dark it is nearly blue-black. Nia demands a single promise from him – that Marcus will never enter her study in the basement, her private space. But when Marcus’s curiosity begins to mount Nia feels more and more uneasy. Will he betray her? Can he accept that no means no? Can a woman ever have a room of her own?
Bigger Thomas refuses to accept, like his mother or his girlfriend, the panaceas of religion or whisky. Unwittingly involved in a wealthy woman’s death, he is hunted relentlessly. He only finally realises his individuality by facing his death.
One of the most popular American writers of the twentieth century, O. Henry’s comic eye and unique, playful approach to the rough material of life’s realities are unmatched. These stories, which range from the cattle-lands of Texas to the bars of New York, highlight the joys of avoiding habit and convention, and demonstrate O. Henry’s mastery of speech and place.
The quarter century or so before the outbreak of the First World War saw an extraordinary boom in the popularity and quality of short stories in Britain. Fuelled by a large new magazine readership and vigorous competition to acquire new stories and develop the careers of some of our greatest writers, these years were ones where the normal rule-of-thumb (novels sell, short stories don’t) was inverted.This was the era of Sherlock Holmes, of Kipling’s most famous stories, of M. R. James, Katherine Mansfield and Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’.
An epidemic of insomnia has left America crippled with exhaustion. Thankfully the Slumber Corps agency provides a lifeline, transfusing sleep to sufferers from healthy volunteers. Recruitment manager Trish Edgewater, whose sister Dori was one of the first victims of the disaster, has spent the last seven years enlisting new donors. But when she meets the mysterious Donor Y and Baby A – whose sleep can be universally accepted – her faith in the organisation and in her own motives begins to unravel.
Taken from his ‘Collection of Sand’, these essays are not great ideas in themselves but commentaries on great ideas and the physical remains they have left behind them: astonishing objects and human-made places which have encapsulated different senses of wonder and desire. The essays range from fire-temples to world-changing maps, from automata to ancient cities. And, not least, the great enigma that has sat at the heart of Rome for some 1,900 years: Trajan’s Column.
How can one live well in the world? What does it mean to be happy? In this selection, Aristotle probes the nature of happiness and virtue in a quest to divine an ethical value system. Exploring ideas of community, responsibility, courage, friendship, agency, reasoning, desire and pleasure, these are some of the most profound and lasting ancient writings on the self to have influenced Western thought.
Holland, 1940. When her father returns home with a parcel of yellow stars it’s clear that life is changing for Marga and her entire family; the Nazi occupation is casting a dark shadow over Amsterdam. But much worse is to come and when the authorities come to the family home, a split decision will have devastating consequences.