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My Mother Was An Upright Piano

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  69 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
'My Mother Was an Upright Piano' builds on the strengths of Tania Hershman's first collection of short stories 'The White Road', which was commended by the judges of the 2009 Orange Award for New Writers.
Paperback, 135 pages
Published May 3rd 2012 by Tangent Books
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Berit Ellingsen
Nov 15, 2012 Berit Ellingsen rated it it was amazing
My Mother Was An Upright Piano is a collection of flash fictions, most of them shorter than one thousand words.

The title is apt since many of the stories are about family relationships, often mothers and daughters. The mother-daughter stories are very personal, intimate, honest and touching, such as The Lion and the Meteorite Can Never Touch You and Trams and Pies.

Hershman is an expert in describing family relations and she does it needing no more than a few hundred words (Under the Tree, The
Jul 29, 2012 Roxane rated it liked it
I love Hershman's writing and her first book, The White Road, is so powerful I still remember the stories, the control, the crispness of the prose. I thought this collection was uneven. Some stories were great. Others felt like they didn't belong in the collection because they were unfinished (and not in a satisfying way), or simply lacked enough energy. The stories that were great, though, were truly great. I particularly liked how she was able to warp reality and time in different ways. ...more
Mar 24, 2013 Paul rated it it was amazing
Tania Hershman is an extraordinary writer. Really – I cannot think of one other writer in the UK like her. Let’s for a moment put aside the fact that she is an inspiration to aspiring writers with her generous, informative blog, her modelling of how to carve a successful career in a form you have helped define and the fact she has done all this without an agent - let’s talk about her writing. Tania’s very short stories are pearls of quality. A heady mixture of humour, insight and magical, poetic ...more
May 30, 2014 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant collection. I'd recommend this to new writers and writers interested in learning the craft of flash fiction particularly.
Maree Kimberley
Jan 01, 2014 Maree Kimberley rated it really liked it
Tania Hershman is another writer I stumbled onto thanks to twitter. I'd read a few of her flash fiction pieces and short stories published on various websites, and loved her quirky originality, so I was looking forward to reading a full collection of her work.

The thing I love most about Hershman's writing is its fearlessness. She manages to convey emotions through the most unlikely combination of words, in the most unlikely settings. Some of her sentences are absolute perfection.

Many of the sto
Carrie Etter
A wonderfully imaginative and poetic collection of flash fictions.
Nancy Freund
Feb 03, 2015 Nancy Freund rated it it was amazing
I ought to write a more formal review one of these days but just want to throw a line or two out now about this fabulous collection of wacky short stories. Tania Hershman is my hero! A physicist in Bristol whose fiction's all about permission... story after story I found delightfully unapologetic creativity... surprising phrases, circumstances, characters and dialogue. Read the first story of the title, My Mother Was an Upright Piano, and you'll see what I mean... and I'm sure you'll be hooked.
Mar 11, 2013 Shaindel rated it it was amazing
Tania Hershman is a master of the flash fiction form. This is a collection of fifty-six bite-sized stories and is one of the best (if not the best) flash fiction collections I've ever read. Many of the stories put me in mind of Italo Calvino. I'm so glad that I finally got to meet Tania at AWP and pick up this second book of hers! Highly recommended, especially to anyone interested in writing short-short stories!
World Literature Today
"Everything is not illuminated in Hershman’s storytelling, and the reader may well ask himself at the end of a story, 'What just happened?' The answer: something vague, absurd, the pain of our attempts at human relationships, and our tenuous place in the universe revealing themselves, and they are beautiful." - Kerri Shadid, Edmond, Oklahoma

This book was reviewed in the May 2013 issue of World Literature Today. Read the full review by visiting our site:
Santino Prinzi
Oct 30, 2013 Santino Prinzi rated it it was amazing
I'll be forever thankful to have come across these wonderful fictions. I had the pleasure of seeing Tania give a reading at our university and I knew then that I needed to read this collection. I feel now as if I am an addict... I need more short stories and micro fictions. What Tania illustrates beautifully is that it is not the amount of words you use to tell the story... But what impact each and every word has in telling that story. Firmly in my favourites.
Mar 02, 2015 Gretel rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
It's not you, it's me.

Hershman's flash fictions are quirky and show she has a flair with words. I thought some of the stories were fantastic, but overall the collection is a mixed bag to me. Maybe it's because I am 'new' to flash fiction, but I found quite a few of these stories felt unfinished.

I think I will definitely come back to this in the future and re-read.
Brian Clegg
Jun 05, 2012 Brian Clegg rated it it was amazing
Actually she wasn't. My mother was not an upright piano either literally or metaphorically. But that is the title of Tania Hershman's new collection of very short stories. (I dislike the term 'flash fiction' - I don't really even know if that's what these are.)

This is not, I must admit, typical reading for me, but I like to try something different occasionally and I had very much enjoyed Tania's collection of science-based stories, The White Road (and other stories), so it seemed a good gamble.

Garry Powell
Nov 18, 2012 Garry Powell rated it it was amazing
Because I teach creative writing, and have taught flash fiction (very short stories) I want to avoid the professorial tendency to analyze too much and to be too prolix. I want to stress the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Tania Hershman's work: it's fun. Many of the stories are humourous, even wacky--"Einstein Plays Guitar" is one example, "Vegetable, Mineral" another--and many are thought-provoking, often because they have unusual perspectives. In "The Short Tree Has Its Hand ...more
Apr 29, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it
Where does prose end and poetry begin? A couple of hundred years ago that wasn’t such a difficult question to answer: poetry was the stuff that rhymed; everything that wasn’t poetry was prose. I’m not sure I trust a definition like that. It’s a bit like answering the question, “What’s a dog?” with the answer, “Not a cat.” The cover to Tania Hershman’s second collection hedges its bets and simply says it contains, “Fictions by Tania Hershman.”

Flash fiction has never been more popular and anythin
Jan 27, 2013 Jenny rated it it was amazing
It has taken me ages to read My Mother was an Upright Piano. In a good way: in the way that it might take you ages to eat a fancy box of chocolates because they're too good to gorge on and you want them to last as long as possible. This book is full of treasure: tiny flashes full of story and emotion. Tania Hershman is an expert in the genre, I think, crafting stories that show what flash, at its best, can do: stories that make you question, that make you think, that make you want to come back a ...more
May 21, 2016 Kate rated it really liked it
I had no idea what to expect from these flash fictions and I'm glad I went into this blind. I loved the mix of quirky, moving, sad and damn right strange. I didn't understand what was going on in some stories, but I liked that. It felt like I could make up my own story of what was going on. In fact with nearly all the stories I could extend the story myself. I will definitely return to many of these stories again. This was my first experience of flash fiction and I will definitely be reading ...more
Annemarie Neary
Sep 27, 2012 Annemarie Neary rated it really liked it
This is a beautifully produced book with an open, elegant feel. The fictions themselves are extraordinary - compact, resonant and highly original. The author plunges us in, head first, with killer opening lines, and the stories themselves don't disappoint. A personal favourite is 'ankle socks and hair in bunches' which is a moving exploration of sisterhood. Many others are very witty - none more so than the title story. Some (like 'underground') I don't feel I fully understood, but even those ...more
Shirley Golden
Nov 27, 2012 Shirley Golden rated it really liked it
These 56 short fictions are beautifully written, often quirky and always intelligent. If you enjoy easy, obvious stories, this collection probably won't be for you. Even after many readings, I'm not convinced I've understood some of these pieces. However, when I felt I made the right connections, the effort was worth it. The themes are diverse, ranging from family relationships to wider issues of failed human interactions or reflections on mortality. My favourites were, 'waving on the moon', ...more
Jan 27, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A true original, Tania Hershman's collection of Fictions is everything you would expect of a writer who embraces life in all its grand minutia and revels in the discovery of the surreal, the touching, the sublime.

A perfect gift, a warm and wonderful read. Brava, Tania and her publisher, Tangent Books, for showing us the magic that can happen when outstanding talent meets professional passion.
Ryan O'Neill
Jan 23, 2013 Ryan O'Neill rated it it was amazing
Before reading this book I had formed a prejudice about flash fiction. Though I had read little of it, I believed that it was impossible to write a good short story in just a few hundred words. 'My Mother was an Upright Piano' showed me just how wrong I was. Inventive, moving, entertaining, clever, funny; these stories are not just great flash fiction. They are great fiction, full stop.
Helena Halme
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Feb 28, 2015
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Christopher Allen
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Aug 27, 2016
Ruth Kaiser
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Olga Wojtas
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Nov 15, 2014
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My poetry chapbook, Nothing Here Is Wild, Everything Is Open, is published and available! A full poetry collection will be published by Nine Arches Press in 2017, as will a third short story collection.

What I’m up to now

I co-edited – together with Pippa Goldschmidt – an anthology of short stories inspired by the 100th birthday of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, I Am Because You Are, and I
More about Tania Hershman...

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