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The Penguin Book of Modern British Short Stories

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3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  247 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
This anthology is in many ways a 'best of the best', containing gems from thirty-four of Britain's outstanding contemporary writers. It is a book to dip into, to read from cover to cover, to lend to friends and read again. It includes stories of love and crime, stories touched with comedy and the supernatural, stories set in London, Los Angeles, Bucharest and Tokyo. Above ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published July 5th 1989 by Penguin Books (first published 1987)
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Paul Bryant
Oct 09, 2009 Paul Bryant rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Contains one of PB's All Time Greats :

"Weekend" by Fay Weldon (1978)

The development of one's own consciousness is often incremental, but sometimes, on occasion, you get to experience epiphanies, when something that's been hanging around just over your left shoulder mumbling and buzzing faintly suddenly wheels right round and stares at you right in the face and you see things for what they are. And it's a shock. On even fewer occasions these epiphanies come from books. This story was one such for
...more
Jamie
Sep 21, 2009 Jamie rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Rushdie, Ishiguro, and Greene particularly knocked it out of the park. (Naturally.) If you wanted to know, Graham Greene can do more with four pages than most novelists can with forty, and Rushdie can do more with a sentence than most can with a book.
Ian Russell
Dec 29, 2010 Ian Russell rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I first read these about three or four years ago, I think. A mixed bunch but very much enjoyed. I'm giving it another go starting, fairly randomly this time, with the ones I remember liking the most.

Alan Sillitoe is a great writer of the vernacular, capturing that pre-war, British working-class austerity, you almost believe you're imagining it unfold in sepia.

I remember this book turned me onto a lot of women authors I wouldn't have considered, believing they wrote about women's issues but you c
...more
NocturnalBlaze
Letto in inglese.
Sono rimasta piacevolmente colpita da alcuni racconti di questa raccolta, che mi hanno sia confermato la bravura di autori che già conoscevo (in particolare Ian McEwan e Kazuo Ishiguro), sia mi hanno permesso di scoprire anche qualche nuovo scrittore di cui esplorare le opere, ma ci sono anche state sezioni piuttosto deludenti e racconti che non mi hanno minimamente mossa.
Ho trovato l'intera raccolta troppo eterogenea per essere apprezzata come opera completa. L'unico elemento
...more
Russio
Jun 17, 2015 Russio rated it really liked it
Variable fare with some cracking writers, sometimes on cracking form. I read this in two halves: for a short story course at uni (1st half) and then with the completist zeal that I have developed, now, twice that age. I remember rating Rushdie's story higher than most others in my first sweep, hating Beckett's story and feeling nonplussed with Greene. I would say that these, perhaps against-expectation, views still hold water today, although my hate is nowadays reserved for more important matter ...more
Andrew Wright
Mar 18, 2015 Andrew Wright rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
The stories in this have a number of appeals and a number of detractions for me as a reader. I suppose it reminds me how much my being an American shapes my opinions, or maybe it's just coincidental. In any event, the stories closer to WWII were more satisfying in that they were so quintessentially English, so obsessed with class and with the distinctions between the classes even after the money distinguishing them is gone. The beauty and humor was in the details. There were some authors here I ...more
Russell George
Dec 06, 2011 Russell George rated it liked it
This is an anthology of the great and the good of post war British writers. Like any anthology, you're not going to like everything, but overall I was slightly disapponted that many of these stories were ever so slightly dull. Honourable exceptions go to Dylan Thomas (who'd clearly had a few), Alan Silitoe, Malcolm Bradbury (the editor), Ian McEwan (who may or may not have been reading Brett Easton Ellis at the time) and the regularly brilliant Kazuo Ishiguro. But the great thing about collectio ...more
Camille
Feb 24, 2013 Camille rated it really liked it
assigned in college; I come back to it now and then. Favorites:

for amusement: Memories of the Space Age (JG Ballard), The House of the Famous Poet (Muriel Spark). Also, Let Me Count the Times (369), The Enigma (John Fowles)
for enjoyable oddity: The Burning Baby (Dylan Thomas), A Few Selected Sentences (BS Johnson)
for gender commentary: To Room Nineteen (Doris Lessing) and Weekend (Fay Weldon)
for insight on what good writing looks like: Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie (Beryl Bainbridge), Psychopo
...more
Jason Mills
Nov 25, 2009 Jason Mills rated it liked it
Recommends it for: writers, academics, pessimists, misery-guts, literature students
Recommended to Jason by: College coursebook 20 years ago that I only just got around to.
There are impressive stories in here - Lessing, Fowles, Sillitoe, Rushdie, Weldon and Hughes wrote some of the offerings that stick in my mind - and there aren't any turkeys. But overall the package seems kinda colourless: dismal stories of failed relationships; academic writers writing about academics and writers; prose that is clever, but apologetically rather than excitingly. Compare this with the entertainment and stimulation of a decent science fiction anthology, or (for instance) George R ...more
Michael Moseley
Nov 18, 2012 Michael Moseley rated it liked it
This book gives an introduction to a wealth of different British Authors. Some of the stories are more readable that other. My main impression from the stories was one of post war austerity and foggy Britain. Everything is much more complicated than we are at first. So much to read and what to read. Writing this review I cannot recall many of the details of the stories, which is a poor indictment of my ability or the writer. Sex seems to be the only them that has an enduring memory for me. Perve ...more
Chas Bayfield
Jun 03, 2014 Chas Bayfield rated it it was amazing
What a book! This kick started everything for me. Having been newly dumped by a 'reader', I began to devour books to see what it was about them (and not me!) she loved. This was a perfect jumping off point - Dylan Thomas, Marin Amis, Doris Lessing, Malcolm Bradbury, Fay Weldon - I was so spoiled. Then I ran off and read their novels - one each so not to be favouritist, and by the end of it I'd read so much that I got a job in a brand new book store which opened in Kensington. My love of reading ...more
Betheliza
Jul 18, 2014 Betheliza rated it it was ok
I have finished the wretched boring thing. I liked perhaps 30% of the stories, and there were others I could appreciate. I left the most boring 'til last and I had to half read the last two aloud as I simply couldn't concentrate from the beginning to the end of a sentence. I think that, as I started reading this anthology so long ago, I will have to go back and read the ones I actually enjoyed again.
Nathaniel Taylor
May 18, 2014 Nathaniel Taylor rated it liked it
The writing itself was impeccable. The subject matter (decaying relationships, mostly marital) was repetitive. Could have operated much better under a different title: "Modern British Short Stories About Decaying Relationships, Mostly Marital". Still good. Look out for a ravishingly rancid little piece from the great Dylan Thomas in this one.

All in all, definitely recommended!
Kirsty
Aug 17, 2012 Kirsty rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this collection - two of my favourites being 'The Invisible Japanese Gentleman' by Graham Greene and 'Ping' by Samuel Beckett. A gigantic array of brilliant authors such as J.G Ballard, Elizabeth Bowen, Samuel Beckett, Angela Carter, Martin Amis, Salman Rushie etc. Can't fault it. Highly recommended by yours truly.
Marie-Louise
Enjoyed this wide selection of short stories which I studied on my Creative Writing module at university. Favourites included, 'A Family Supper', 'Psychopolis' and 'The Prophet's Hair'.
Janet
Jul 14, 2013 Janet added it
Usually not into short stories - so, the ones I can't get into - I stop and go to the next. Some really good stories by some great authors.
Laura
May 15, 2013 Laura rated it liked it
Although some of the stories in this collection are tiring and weird, most are enjoyable and interesting to read with some providing great comedy.
Karen Madej
Apr 30, 2013 Karen Madej rated it liked it
Some great stories, some very long and tortuous stories and some, downright tedious ones. Beautifully written though.
Ivan
Sep 26, 2013 Ivan rated it really liked it
In many ways more satisfying a read than a novel - so many different characters, situations, writers' styles...
Alison
Jan 14, 2013 Alison rated it really liked it
Especially liked Rain Horse (Ted Hughes)and Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie (Beryl Bainbridge)
Margaret
Jul 25, 2010 Margaret rated it it was amazing
This book introduced me to Doris Lessing, for which I will be eternally grateful.
Rob
Sep 25, 2007 Rob rated it liked it
i've only really liked the muriel spark story so far, and i don't understand it really.
Jon
May 10, 2016 Jon rated it really liked it
Great selection of stories from a great selection of writers.
Maria del Pilar
Aug 30, 2010 Maria del Pilar rated it liked it
It made me feel Britain and British.
Beth
Beth marked it as to-read
Sep 26, 2016
Annika
Annika marked it as to-read
Sep 17, 2016
Clancy
Clancy added it
Sep 13, 2016
Noah Melser
Noah Melser marked it as to-read
Sep 11, 2016
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Sir Malcolm Stanley Bradbury CBE was an English author and academic. He is best known to a wider public as a novelist. Although he is often compared with David Lodge, his friend and a contemporary as a British exponent of the campus novel genre, Bradbury's books are consistently darker in mood and less playful both in style and language. His best known novel The History Man, published in 1975, is ...more
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