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Sugar and Other Stories

3.65  ·  Rating Details ·  436 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
A.S. Byatt's short fictions, collected in paperback for the first time, explore the fragile ties between generations, the dizzying abyss of loss and the elaborate memories we construct against it, resulting in a book that compels us to inhabit other lives and returns us to our own with new knowledge, compassion, and a sense of wonder.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published November 10th 1992 by Vintage (first published 1987)
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Moira Russell
I felt very conflicted about this book. The majority of stories in it were extremely unpleasant, and several -- "The Dried Witch," "In the Air" -- so painful I couldn't read them in full. Byatt is not at all in her best in the realistic short story medium; her plots stop short in that maddening manner so common to modern short story authors, so it's as if the last third of the story itself remains unwritten, and only a few times (at the end of "On the Day that E.M. Forster Died," in parts of "Ra ...more
Gemma Williams
Jan 26, 2008 Gemma Williams rated it it was amazing
I must admit to being completely in awe of AS Byatt. I am always struck by her qualities of great, luminous intelligence, her keen eye, her amazing sense for detail, especially emotional detail. I wonder what it's like to be her and just be seeing so much and understanding so much! I get the sense of this incredibly rich inner life, so complex and layered and full of possibility. Reading her makes the world seem bigger and denser and brighter and more important. This wonderful book of short stor ...more
Sep 16, 2009 Katie rated it liked it
This is one of those books that makes me wish it were possible to use half-stars in rating it. It's a very uneven collection--certainly not a four-star book--but the best stories in it are good enough that three stars seems a bit paltry. Byatt's command of language is, as always, excellent, and I can only admire the way she seems to ignore all rules about story-making and to write only to please herself and work out her own ideas about fiction. The narrators of these stories are almost all inten ...more
Lisa Findley
Feb 07, 2013 Lisa Findley rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Every time I read Byatt, I find myself choosing my words more carefully for the hour or two after I put the book down. Her word choice is always so precise, and her tone so controlled yet revealing. I especially loved the title story, and the line "None of these words, none of these things recall him. The gold-winged, fire-haired figure in the doorway is and was myth, though he did come back, he was there, at that time, and I did make that leap." Perhaps my favorite description of the futility a ...more
Maria Beltrami
Che scriva complessi ed esaltanti romanzi vittoriani, che scriva delicati racconti, la Byatt è una scrittrice che rasenta la perfezione.
Nell'uso del linguaggio, dove ogni parola è non solo al suo posto, ma assolutamente necessaria; nella delicata complessità delle trame, perfettamente equilibrate, vere, commoventi; nella descrizione dei personaggi che sono a tutto tondo anche nei racconti più brevi.
Una splendida lettura.
Die Geschichten von Erde und Luft handeln von Gegensätzen und Widersprüchen, von Liebe und Tod, Vergangenheit und Gegenwart, Hoffnung und Furcht, Begegnung und Trennung. Entstanden sind sie im selben Zeitraum wie der große Roman Besessen.
In der Erzählung „Das Zimmer nebenan“ empfindet eine Frau den Tod ihrer Mutter zunächst als Befreiung aus bedrückender emotionaler Enge. Den Stimmen, die sie in ihrem leer stehenden Elternhaus zu hören glaubt, will sie durch den Verkauf des Hauses en
Eine sehr biografische Kurzgeschichte, in der die Autorin schildert, wie sie sich während des Sterbeprozesses des Vaters an die Geschichten über ihn und seine Familie erinnert. Das ungewöhnliche ist, dass diese Geschichten nicht vom zurückhaltenden Vater selbst, sondern von dessen Frau, der Mutter der Erzählerin, teils auch mit Ausschmückungen erzählt wurden. Damit war das Buch eine interessante Ergänzung zu Eva Manesses Buch Vienna, das ich zuvor gelesen hatte und in dem es ebenfalls um phantas ...more
Carolyn Mck
Jan 09, 2016 Carolyn Mck rated it really liked it
A fiercely written set of stories using memory, feelings, ideas, observation – all in extended, exact (and exacting) prose.

I suspect that the story about the ghost child must be Byatt’s way of transforming the accidental death of her own child into a story she can deal with and is wonderfully done.

The title story winds through childhood memory and contrasts a father’s truthfulness with a mother’s embroidered tale. But which offers the greater truth? There is a lasting image of the sugar in a c
Aug 10, 2016 Darceylaine rated it liked it
The collection of short stories is true to Byatt's style, her loving attention to describing every day and sublime objects. Her beautiful use of language. Her immense vocabulary and knowledge of literary and artistic culture, her assumption that her reader speaks French, German, Italian and Latin, so there is no need to provide translations for passages in other languages. Or explanations of her cultural referents. Not having attended Cambridge myself, I tend to get bogged down. But her language ...more
Sep 14, 2008 Patricia rated it liked it
Shelves: britain
Two of the best stories are "The Day E. M. Forster Died" and "The Next Room." The first story is a brilliant, understated reflection on how death shapes up our art. The story made me think about what I missed the last time I read Howards End. "The Next Room" is Byatt at her best combination of sharp observation and compassion, mundane and extraordinary. I liked several of the other stories. Some of them so probed the character's vulnerabilities and fears,though, that they were more painful than ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Avd.Reader rated it really liked it
Shelves: british, stories, short
This first collection of stories by A. S. Byatt would be a good place to start for someone not familiar with her work. The stories are thematically linked in that events or things seem to be repeating themselves. The burden of family history, and the force of tradition and literature is shown as a recurring pattern over several generations. The past becomes evident in the form of ghosts and in family stories which often trigger highly emotional responses. A very good read indeed.
Dec 29, 2008 Clare added it
Ugh, this is too much. Need to stop reading books by white English ladies, in particular, ones by A.S. Byatt. These stories date back to 1987, and are not as compelling as her more recent work. Too self-conscious, too aware of the act of writing fiction, of creating, too many narrative asides to the reader. Get over it. A few stories are worth reading, however, especially the first - "Racine and the Tablecloth" - whose title alone could compensate for the entire collection.
Jun 21, 2012 David rated it really liked it
I got into some of these stories more than others. There were certainly some fine moments and I could see why Byatt is considered a good writer, but for the most part I didn't get into these stories as much as I would have liked. They were good, but many of them reminded me a bit too much of Henry James for my tastes. Many of them seemed a bit overrefined, if not a bit overwritten or even crowded. I'm sure some people really go in for that, but I didn't react well.
Jan 23, 2010 Pamster rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned
Her first collection, so I shouldn't have expected something as mesmerizing and haunting as Little Black Book of Stories. Read a few incredible stories, couldn't get into a few of them at all, and really the Chimamanda Adichie short story collection I'd gotten in the same library trip was calling me, so I stop short of completing this. Adichie stories are currently rocking my world.
I'm not usually a big fan of short story collections because usually they are mostly mediocre. But this one was pretty strong all the way through. I especially liked the one about the ghost of a little boy, and the one about the desert witch. If you like Byatt's writing, you'll probably like this collection. If you find her writing pretentious and overly dense - don't pick this one up.
Sep 04, 2011 Anne rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful compromise, I thought. I've loved several of A.S. Byatt's novels for their dense gorgeous prose and high level of detail...but I've disliked her short stories because they are so much sparser. This is a book of short stories each of which is a miniature Byatt novel. I enjoyed some more than others, of course, but it was overall very satisfying.
Mar 27, 2014 Sandra rated it really liked it
I really really liked this book--the characters came alive for me--a very controversial subject matter--and yet I found myself laughing more often than feeling like crying throughout this book. This is my first book by this author, but I plan to request & honestly hope to read more by her. Wow and Wow!!!
Aug 01, 2007 Kay rated it really liked it
My favorite story in this collection is "The July Ghost," a poignant ghost story. It's not a genre that one associates with A.S. Byatt, but she's superb at rendering atmosphere, so it should really come as no surprise that she succeeds so well. Someone (I forget who) once said that all ghost stories are about loss. Case in point.
Dec 05, 2014 cameron rated it liked it
This is not by far the best A.S Byatt set of short stories. However, it is very early Byatt and if you're a big fan like I am, it worth the short read. One can easily spot the developing style and voice of the author and that's always so interesting. There is also a bit of personal insight.
Oct 21, 2016 Silas rated it it was ok
Sub-par, in comparison with her other work I've read. Her collection The Matisse Stories is wonderful, and her great novel, Possession, is superb. But Sugar and Other Stories isn't nearly as good as those books.
Feb 01, 2011 Kate rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: the dainty and the staid
Recommended to Kate by: Rd adult fiction
Shelves: short-stories
It's worth the old leaves for its time of glory.

The young have longer legs and higher hopes.

"Our art," said T.S. Eliot, "is a substitute for religion and so is our religion."
Feb 16, 2010 Keith rated it really liked it
another good collection of short stories by Byatt. I'm now beginning to see themes of hers, and it seems like some of these stories were the start of some of her bigger novels.
1patstoll Stoll
Mar 10, 2011 1patstoll Stoll rated it it was amazing
Byatt can be a daunting "read." Start with these short stories. The last one in the book, "Sugar," is autobiographical and is a good introduction to this great writer.
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A.S. Byatt (Antonia Susan Byatt) is internationally known for her novels and short stories. Her novels include the Booker Prize winner Possession, The Biographer’s Tale and the quartet, The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower and A Whistling Woman, and her highly acclaimed collections of short stories include Sugar and Other Stories, The Matisse Stories, The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Ey ...more
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