We asked Emily Harrison one of our STORGY Reviewers what her best books of 2018 were and below are her findings…
2018 has been a year full of words – I’ve started [finally] writing and submitting my work, but I’ve also started reading more [which is odd considering I did an English degree for three years]. Rather than see this list as a countdown, where the book placed at number one is the best I’ve picked up all year, see it more as a collection of different works that have captured me more than any other I’ve cast my eyes up from January to December.
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The Cuban Club – Barry Gifford
A collection of short [very short] stories, Gifford has the knack for writing characters that resonate through time. I came across the book late into the year, thanks to STORGY [there’s a review of it out there somewhere] but it’s firmly cemented itself as a favourite. Not only in the style of writing, or the characters, but in Gifford’s ability to capture me. I devoured all 67 stories in two days.
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Should I have read this novel before 2018? Yes. Should I have read it before 2018 because in my application to various universities I’m fairly sure I lied and said I’d read it at school when I hadn’t? Also, yes. Eighteen-year-old me knew how to have fun. I don’t think there’s much more anyone can say about how utterly brilliant To Kill a Mockingbird is. A true classic, and one I’ve since re-read twice.
Unthology 10 – various authors
Another collection [there is a running theme here], Unthology 10 is full of delicious short stories. ‘End Times’ by Maxim Loskutoff, ‘Household Gods’ by Tracy Fells and ‘Tenth Circle’ by Liam Hogan were perhaps my favourite entries, but nevertheless, the entire collection [of fourteen stories] is endlessly beguiling. I have returned to it many times for writing inspiration. Review here.
Cold Hand in Mine – Robert Aickman
A writer I discovered at university [shout out to lecturer Nick], Aickman is one of the most overlooked authors when it comes to the ‘weird’ and the ‘strange’. His collection Cold Hand in Mine possesses one of my most read short pieces ‘The Swords’ [it’s brilliant]. His writing is subtle and atmospheric, and I implore anyone to go and seek out some of his work. [Or all of it.]
Madame Zero – Sarah Hall
More short stories [shock]! Nothing short of exceptional, Madame Zero is a joy. A collection of the unnerving, the animalistic, human nature and the ever-present element of darkness [both physical and not], Hall disturbs the status quo – her stories ‘Evie’, ‘Mrs Fox’ and ‘Goodnight Nobody’ are gems, and one’s I have read multiple times for enjoyment and inspiration. Read review here.
Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays – Zadie Smith
Gifted to me for my birthday, Zadie Smith’s collection of essays is – typically for Smith – witty, honest, funny and intriguing. Exploring everything from Nabokov and Barthes to an in-depth review/reflection of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, the essays are engaging, offering new ideas and new ways of thinking. Smith is a favourite of mine, and I’ll always spill praise for her.
Follow Me to Ground – Sue Rainsford
The weird features again in Follow Me to Ground [if it’s not weird, I won’t read it, apparently.] A novel of strange proportions, Rainsford’s tale is one I’ve never seen before [a good thing, no doubt.] The prose is concise and deeply descriptive, the characters thoughtful and intriguing. An odd debut, and one I’m so glad I read. Read review here.
Her Body & Other Parties – Carmen Maria Machado
Experimental and enthralling, Machado’s stories in Her Body & Other Parties are daring in their content. A writer of the weird, the strange and horror – in different forms and measurements, the collection is refreshingly original, and one that has served as writing inspiration for the work I’ve written [or thought I might write] throughout the year.
Sharp Objects – Gillian Flynn
Is this another novel I should have read before 2018? Yes. Did I read it because I saw the trailer for the HBO series of the same name and wanted to see what it was all about? Also, yes. You don’t need me to tell you just how well Flynn writes, nor do I need state just how good [and brilliantly horrifying] Sharp Objects is. Go read it.
Manhattan Transfer – John Dos Passos
I’m not sure this counts as I’ve read it before [in 2014 and 2016] but Manhattan Transfer is sublime, and I re-read it this year so it’s going in the list. At times difficult to read due the its nature – each character has a story that overlaps [think Love, Actually but, much more complicated, and lacking in Emma Thompson…], the novel is a classic – a smorgasbord of 1920s New York, he captures the disorientation with acute detail. Though I can’t lie, at times, it’s utterly confusing.
Twenty-four short stories, exclusive afterwords, interviews, artwork, and more.
From Trumpocalypse to Brexit Britain, brick by brick the walls are closing in. But don’t despair. Bulldoze the borders. Conquer freedom, not fear. EXIT EARTH explores all life – past, present, or future – on, or off – this beautiful, yet fragile, world of ours. Final embraces beneath a sky of flames. Tears of joy aboard a sinking ship. Laughter in a lonely land. Dystopian or utopian, realist or fantasy, horror or sci-fi, EXIT EARTH is yours to conquer.
EXIT EARTH includes the short stories of all fourteen finalists of the STORGY EXIT EARTH Short Story Competition, as judged by critically acclaimed author Diane Cook (Man vs. Nature) and additional stories by award winning authors M R Cary (The Girl With All The Gifts), Toby Litt (Corpsing), James Miller (Lost Boys), Courttia Newland (A Book of Blues), and David James Poissant (The Heaven of Animals), and exclusive artwork by Amie Dearlove, HarlotVonCharlotte, CrapPanther, and cover design by Rob Pearce.
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