Monday, 12 March 2018
The Lost Heifetz and other stories by Michael Tabor
'Full of quirks and intrigue, the stories in The Lost Heifetz and Other Stories are sometimes humorous, occasionally bleak and always smart, with flawed characters trying their best to carve out a life for themselves and find the balance between how people see them and how they would like to be seen.'
That was how this book of short stories was described to me when I was asked to review it. I entirely agree with that description and would add that many of these twelve stories would rank among the best short stories I've read. I love the cleverness of the stories, the inventiveness, the humour and the insight. I also love the variety of setting and theme.
Many of the stories focus on creativity, for example the title story follows an amateur musician who meets an old man in a record shop and becomes convinced that he is a violinist believed to have died during the second world war. The story within a story approach can be tricky to pull off but here is handled deftly and works beautifully to create a storyabout the power of music.
Meanwhile, The Show Never Stops reflects on life in the theatre from the varying perspectives of people who work in the theatre and some of the inanimate parts of the theatre including the stage and the mirror behind the bar. It's particularly entertaining to read the opinions that the characters have about each other.
Home Again explores the life and personality of Jean, a professional house sitter. The various layers of her persona are peeled back to gradually reveal surprising facets of her identity and personal history.
Sir George and the Dragon is a very clever and entertaining account of how pompous George Tomkins wins over the new resident of the 'big house' in the village, also called George.
It's not fair to choose a favourite story, as they are all so brilliant and all well worth re-reading. However, I was particularly interested in the ideas in The Pawnbroker, in which Sam visits a pawnbroker to pawn a story. What follows is a fascinating insight into inspiration, authorial voice, professional jealousy and the blurred line between truth and fiction.
So if you love short fiction you need to put this book on your reading list. If you have yet to discover the great enjoyment that can be found in short stories, this is the book to start with!
The Lost Heifetz and Other Stories by Michael Tabor published by S and S Bookends
Disclaimer, I received a free review copy of this book.