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Touchy Subjects: Stories

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  668 ratings  ·  100 reviews
In this sparkling collection of nineteen stories, the bestselling author of Slammerkin returns to contemporary affairs, exposing the private dilemmas that result from some of our most public controversies. A man finds God and finally wants to father a child-only his wife is now forty-two years old. A coach's son discovers his sexuality on the football field. A roommate's b ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published May 7th 2007 by Mariner Books (first published June 2006)
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Had this out of the library for a while, dipping into it off and on, hoping I'd maybe get into it. Answer: no. The stories feel totally mundane, non-revelatory. They don't have the punchy power that a short story should have (in my opinion and to my taste). And now there's a book I want more in at the library, and I need to make space on my card. 'bye, Emma Donoghue.
I absolutely adore Short Story collections by fantastic authors. I've loved Ms. Donoghue's writing since I first picked up a copy of Slammerkin all those years ago and I was thrilled when I stumbled across this little collection.

There are 19 stories tucked into this little gem. Some are better than others, in my opinion, but that made it all the more enjoyable. The characters varied, moving from a high powered business-woman who's willing to do anything it takes to have a child, to a bitter craw
Pixie Dust
This book is made up of short stories about ordinary people caught in unexpected situations and how they react to them. Filled with self-deprecating humour, the stories poke innocent fun at the cute and loveable characters who find themselves in helpless circumstances and awkwardly fumble to cope with or escape their predicaments.

For example, in ‘expecting’, a stranger misheard that a woman is pregnant. In that fleeting moment, the woman thinks it is not necessary to correct the perception of so
Some of these stories absolutely slew me-- I read them over and over, at home, on the beach, and out loud to friends. Donoghue takes the familiar (romance, domesticity) and reveals the unfamiliar hidden within those everyday situations.

Her characters include heterosexual couples, lesbian and gay couples, single-businesswomen-seeking-sperm, evangelical Christians, and people who just really love dogs; all of these are treated with honest affection, making their stories relatable. Had I known the
Elaine Burnes
I hadn’t read any Donoghue, so thought a collection of short stories would be a good introduction and safer than investing in a novel (burned by Sarah Waters, I won’t assume a mainstream writer will necessarily be good).

These are terrific. If there had been more lesbian stories, it would have gotten the full five stars. I was disappointed by that at first, so flipped through and read all the lesbian ones first. Charmed, I went back to read the rest and found no lack of interest. Even the ones wi
If you liked the movie The Kids are All Right, try this set of short stories about relationships and families by the British lesbian author Emma Donoghue. Divided into categories like birth and death, this collection includes two stories that were so touching and poignant that I almost couldn't stand it: in one, a woman finds herself accidentally browsing in the maternity section of a department store, and, flustered, pretends that she is pregnant when an elderly gentleman congratulates her. In ...more
Very good collection of stories. An easy, quick read, but there is some real power in the characters and relationships captured in these little tales. The stories ranged from what at first struck me as awfully "traditional family" centred stories, with lots of babies (although even those had a few twists), to a section called "desire" which included several queer/GLBT stories which were wonderful. I continue to love Donoghue's writing and will keep reading whatever she puts out.
I'm not quite sure what to make of this collection of short stories.

On one hand, Donoghue has a knack for creating vivid characters. While we only spend a short time with them, all of them feel well fleshed out.

On the other hand, however, I often found myself hitting the end of the story and thinking 'Is this it? What was the point of what I just read?' Many of the shorts seemed more like the opening chapter of a larger novel than a standalone story. I understand that there's a lot of power in
Jill Furedy
This collection started off strong, for me. The delay in knowing what was happening in that first hotel room (between a woman and her friend's husband) intrigued me. The second story was less intriguing, but the awkardness of the situation (a woman mistakenly identified as pregnant) did make me squirm and want to yell at the main character. The last three stories, the Death section, I found my interest dwindling, but for the middle stories, I mostly came out in favor of Donaghue's voice and stor ...more
In my eyes, Emma Donoghue can do very little wrong. This themed collection (babies, domesticity, strangers, desire and death) feels like a chat with a good friend. Donoghue does great dialogue, and her situations are deeply realistic. I can see myself picking this collection up to return to a few of the stories again and again.
I was torn about this rating. I loved the stories in the first half of the book and was much less enchanted with the second half (except for The Cost of Things, which was great). I skipped a few stories, actually. But still . . . there were enough good ones in here for me to admire the book.
I thought this started really strongly with stories under the category of birth. I could particularly relate to "Do they know it's Christmas?" But from there it was a disappointing anti-climax. While I understand the flow of ending with death stories, none were particularly poignant so it was a flat method with which to finish the collection.

The very strong homosexual content had me googling the author... All I really wanted was to be immersed in a series of fictional short stories for 10 minut
Emma Donoghue's Touchy Subjects found its way on ipad accidentally. Initially, I was searching for her popular novel, Room, and in my quest stumbled upon this compilation of short stories. It is written touching exactly on what you might consider touchy subjects divided up in to five sections: babies, domesticity, strangers, desire and death. Some of these topics make people skin literally shutter, itch, and crawl. Emma explores a world that is so personal that you find it almost intriguing grab ...more
A collection of short stories from Emma Donoghue that I enjoyed. The nineteen stories are divided into five segments: Babies, Domesticity, Strangers, Desire and Death. Babies get the lions share of the proceedings, with six stories, followed by Death with four. My favorite segment, given my sometimes-morbidity, was Death. I enjoyed all stories within it, with Necessary Noise, a story of two young sisters faced with the prospect of their younger brother's overdose, being my favorite.

My absolute
Ruth Hastings
NOT for RS!

I was on the lookout for an audiobook to listen to on my way to and from work and spotted this one. I grabbed it as I loved Room...wouldn't normally chose short stories.

I thought the first story was hilarious, I gasped, laughed, my toes curled, I cringed.

Can't say the same about all the stories, some didn't grab my attention as much as others, but I loved the diversity and the subjects it covered!

Great idea for a book, and would make a great book club discussion...unfortunately def
Realistic short stories are not really my thing, but I think Emma Donoghue might be on her way to changing my mind. These stories were entertaining, delightful, funny and very human. A lot of the stories revolve around human awkwardness and failure to communicate, and you can fully sympathise with a lot of the tricky situations characters find themselves in.
Sudha Murali
Frankly, I did not get this book at all. It is a collection of short stories - and pointless ones at that.

I like that the author was able to write stories around subjects that one wouldn't even count as a subject - and therein lies the problem. There was some humor and the stories were poignant in some places but after finishing every story - EVERY story - I kept coming back to the same question - SO WHAT ????

The ending to every story was un-fulfilling - I'm not asking for a big bang or a twist
I took this out of the library because it was Emma Donoghue. I really wanted to read her latest "Frog Music," which was unavailable. Some of the short stories were really good, but most I found to be just OK. I think I may just bite the bullet and take out "Slammerkin," the historical novel that made her famous.
I've been seduced! Emma Donoghue won me over on the short story issue. Usually don't like them - really liked these. It probably helped that they were arranged by theme, so the first several related to one other at least that much. But really it was the way she wrote them and the quirky angles she chose on common experiences such as pregnancy, parenting, encounters with strangers. Not to mention the range of her imagination. Also good that it was a whole book of them, as my basic short story pro ...more
This is a 3.5 from me.

I like to inhabit the worlds that Donoghue creates in her stories. You generally know how the stories will wind up fairly early on, but that is not the point. What is far more interesting are the set-ups for each little world. Writing this a month and a half after reading the book, I would say the stories that really stick out in my head are "The Man Who Wrote on Beaches," "The Sanctuary of Hands," and "Speaking in Tongues."

In fact, I think "Speaking in Tongues" may be the
Full of interesting, engaging stories about the small, private struggles of ordinary individuals, Touchy Subjects is most successful in exploring human frailty and the self-doubt and constant revaluation we all go through. But this impact is lessened by the thematic arrangement of the stories into categories – Birth through Death. The strongest stories are upfront and I was rather disappointed that the entirely of the Desire section explores homosexuality to the exclusion of all other themes tha ...more
Laura C
The first story was really good. The second was good. A rapid decline after that. Only read just over half of the book.
New author on the scene; nice collection of short stories seen from a youthful perspective. I enjoyed them all.
Esther Bos
A book of short stories. Some are very good, some are just so-so. I tired of them before reaching the end of the book.
Sharon Archer
I really don't care for short stories...but these were mostly very good and some were downright amusing.
Penny Little
Some stories are better than others but all take a wry look at subjects not usually talked about. Interesting to read.
elizabeth tobey
It took me a while to get through all the stories in this book. At first, I was a bit put off because the way they are collected, it felt like every tale was going to be a slightly sad book about or around pregnancy/parenthood. I was glad when it branched out but I can't, for the life of me, remember a single story well enough to tell you which was my favorite. I think the first and the last are the only two that still pop - but the only one I'd truly recommend was the first. Still, Emma is a gr ...more
Sonja Trbojevic
My least favourite of her story collections, but nevertheless enjoyable
Appropriately titled group of short stories. Expressive and character driven providing enough balance with interest and discomfort to continue reading.
Interesting collection of stories. Not comparable to Room but enjoyed none the less love her variety. I love Alice Munro and would say this has similar leanings...
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Emma is the youngest of eight children of Frances and Denis Donoghue. She attended Catholic convent schools in Dublin, apart from one year in New York at the age of ten. In 1990 she earned a first-class honours BA in English and French from University College Dublin, and in 1997 a PhD (on the concept of friendship between men and women in eighteenth-century English fiction) from the University of ...more
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