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The Beautiful Indifference: Stories

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  844 Ratings  ·  136 Reviews
From Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author Sarah Hall comes a collection of unique and disturbing short fiction hailed as a sensation by UK reviewers

The serenity of a Finnish lake turns sinister when a woman's lover does not come back from his swim . . . A bored London housewife discovers a secret erotic club . . . A shy, bookish girl develops an unlikely friendship with the
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Harper Perennial (first published November 17th 2011)
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Paquita Maria Sanchez
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
A teency request: if you are an author with a totally forgettable name (no offense, I have one too), put a little elbow grease into titling your books, man. Do it for us, the just realizing we're not immune to the aging process types with paranoid predispositions, who already find ourselves scouring WebMD every time we have a cramp or an itch, who spend some nights rocking back and forth dwelling about how our years of reckless abandon are finally catching up with us, so that when our memories c ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I like my lit a little mucky. I like to wince, look away from a page, close an eye and sneak a peek. I like it when pretty is hip-checked, when a scene gets manure bombed and when a character has a phlegmy cough. I like real, I like raw, I like dirt under fingernails, arm pit hair that can be braided and toenails that clack against a wood floor.

And now, because of all of that, I like Sarah Hall.

She’s not necessarily messy-messy. She’s not like a Japanese horror novelist or anything. But she ha
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, short-stories
Now this author can write and she can pack a potent voice, a great narrative.
She has written these short stories all with characters who are female and they are told in first person narrative. Visceral and affecting, light and dark, beautiful and ugly, she passes your time bringing voices of various people in society from different walks of life and different pastures. Inner-city to country she tells of their dilemmas their loves and she can write on and and on. A writer I anticipate to deliver
May 15, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Granta
[3.5] Sarah Hall is a sorceror when describing the life and land of her native Cumbria. I am there; I can feel the biting breeze whipping hair into my eyes.
Her descriptive powers are still pretty strong in other places but not so great that I didn't long for some humour and a sense of the ridiculous that, as in much cold, detached literary fiction are too obviously absent.

The two stories set in Cumbria are unquestionably my favourites. 'Butcher's Perfume' is a rollicking start, a story of a tee
A copy of The Beautiful Indifference was provided to me by Harper Perennial/Edelweiss for review purposes.

'A Beautiful Indifference' is a collection of seven short stories that had been previously published in various forms and have been honored for awards on their own. The first story, 'Butcher's Perfume' was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award in 2010 and 'Vuotjärvi' was long-listed for the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award in 2011.

I've only recently started readin
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Short stories are not really my thing. I'm not one to appreciate plot strands left unresolved, introduced ideas left undeveloped, ambiguous endings where "I" am meant to decide what happened. I don't like short stories. I carried on thinking this until I was about halfway through this collection, by which point the richly detailed, evocative and clear as glass narrative had won me over. The sense of something disturbing just beneath the surface and a malevolence which would never be realised in ...more
Jan 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tragic, pretty, colloquial, submissive, English gothic.

A bit intellectual-woman-wanking-in-the-bath for me, but still pleasant for someone in the target audience, which I assume I am, just about, in the Venn diagram of women, depressives and wankers.
Jun 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very good bunch of stories. I think I preferred the ones set in Cumbria (where the author comes from) packed with wonderful dialect with meanings you sometimes have to guess at: 'glisky', anyone? Or 'brant shoulderblades'? Some are more straightforward: 'As warm as sotter loaf', the 'dogs sooling about in the undergrowth'. These (2) stories have energy, warmth and drive - the first story 'Butcher's Perfume' recounts a schoolgirl's friendship with the Slessor family; They came from gypsy stock, s ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: engels-english
Goed geschreven verhalen die je misschien aanvankelijk met vragen achterlaten. Lees je echter goed de details, dan is er meer duidelijk dan je denkt.
A short, pleasant collection of intriguing stories. After ‘The Electric Michelangelo’ and ‘The Carhullan Army’, I count Sarah Hall amongst my favourite of modern British fiction authors. This volume doesn’t quite measure up to the heights of those novels, and in fact I was tempted to write a snarky review along the lines of ‘another book whose title reviews itself’. But that wouldn’t have been quite fair: beautiful as the writing sometimes is, I certainly wasn’t indifferent to it.

Or rather I was
Dan Purdue
Sarah Hall's writing is clear-eyed and unflincing. She finds beauty in the most unlikely places and draws out the ugliness and decay lurking beneath the surface in all kinds of human relationships. Her prose is unsentimental but sensual, and her descriptions are vivid and often visceral. She writes about people but the animalistic side of human nature is never far away.

There are seven stories in this collection, the first and longest of which is "Butcher's Perfume", a story that was shortlisted
Robert Lomas
Dec 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-stuff
This book is a collection on seven short stories, each set in a different place, each featuring the viewpoint of a different woman at a key stage of her life, and each conjuring up a different emotion.
The title is taken from the second story which is set in Yorkshire. The twist in the tale (sic) is its unexpected, yet bitter-sweet, ending. Only when you read the last paragraph do you realise the inevitable destination of the story and the real meaning of the title.
I bought this book after hearin
Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
very nice short stories, mostly set in uk, but also farther afield, south africaish perhaps? one thing i like is her dialogs do not have quote marks and no he said she replied she sighed he huffed
most is all just a smooth flow, like a bbc documentary narrating the dissolution of your midlife love affair.

"she murdered mortal me" set in africa, is perhaps my favorite as it reminds me of a very old fashioned style of short story with a nice twist and one could very easily find it in something like
Melanie Zhang
Dec 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I was actually very skeptical when I started this book (I've never really been into short stories), but within seconds I was hooked. These stories are exceptional. They aren't for everybody - nothing much happens, in the sense that there aren't any grand story arcs, but each story is so atmospheric and evocative that I didn't much mind. The writing alternates between quietly despairing and beautifully lush, with a distinct dark undercurrent to it, something raw and sexually charged. The moment I ...more
Catherine McNamara
Beautiful language, resonating settings, plausible and gutsy. The stories have a strong female sway, and a gritty contact with the earth. Lots of odours, blood, suspended happenings that unreel purposefully. I like Hall's tight and ungiving endings, although she often wishes bad things upon her male companions who lightly tred through the book. This is a book of lyricised punches, cold shadowy places of water, of earth, of insect-ridden cities. Harshly contemporary.
Alice Lippart
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
An enjoyable collection, though tries a bit too hard to be mysterious and deep. The stories are different in plot, but feel to all have a very similar narrator, even though I don't think that's how it's meant to be.
Dec 20, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: giveaways
I am thrilled to have won this book! My daughter and I both will enjoy this one. Can't wait to post my review.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I initially gave this four stars, but after a bit of space, I realize just how much I adored this book of stories and Sarah Hall's writing style. These are stories that I am still thinking through. Sarah Hall might be my newest favorite writer (apart from debut authors). She's one of those that now that I read one of her books and know that she has more... I am eager to read them all!
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Er zit een vlieg in mijn boek. Platgedrukt, per ongeluk. Het is perfect plat; ik zie zijn vleugels, zijn pootjes, zijn sprieten. Ik las het boek op Vlieland. De prachtige onverschilligheid. Toevallig heeft het beestje zich tussen de pagina's van het verhaal 'Bijen' geplaatst. Soort zoekt soort, zelfs in de vreemdste situaties. Misschien.

De prachtige onverschilligheid is donker. Expres, want Hall duikt de donkere hoeken in, de peilloze diepten. Er komen problemen in voor die simpel op te lossen,
Jan 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads, 2013
I received this book from Goodreads First-reads giveaways, and while I thought the author was well-written and captivating, I though it was a terrible book. Let me explain.

The book is composed of many chapters, each being a mini-story (short story). And each short story's subject matter is appalling. One story is about a married woman joining an erotic sex club, another about a dog mauling a boyfriend, another about a lover losing her soul-mate because he goes for a swim and never returns, anoth
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exceptional collection of short stories. Sarah Hall takes the old adage of "always leave the audience wanting more" to an almost cruel extreme with this gem of a book. Every story is so beautifully crafted, so immersive, that I could happily stayed in each of the worlds Hall created for the duration of a full length novel. There was a palpable sense of loss as each story drew to a close, the characters left behind, yet what followed was always vivid enough to draw me into the next story.

This book is a slim collection of short stories on a variety of themes. An underlying thread seems to me to be nature and civilisation vying for the upper hand both in terms of countryside v city, but also within individuals.

I most enjoyed the first story 'Butcher's Perfume' set in a wild Cumbria. The narrator, schoolgirl Kathleen, observes her friend Manda's notorious family and in doing so illustrates the history of the area and how human relationships work against an often bleak backdrop. Men
Butcher's Perfume, She Murdered Mortal He, and The Nightlong River were the standouts for me in this stunning collection. With these, I fell head over heels for Sarah Hall's writing; the tone is perfect, the endings are subtle but satisfying.
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I discovered this writer when I read one of her stories in the Granta Horror issue. The Beautiful Indifference includes that story (more suspenseful than horrific) and six other of Hall's haunting stories, each featuring a strong female protagonist. Hall's writing is of the reach-out-and-grab-you-by-the-throat variety. She writes about love and sex and loss in a way that is intimate, poetic, and heartbreaking. After reading the first story in this collection (which I had borrowed from the librar ...more
De pracht van deze verhalenbundel ligt in de onverschilligheid waarmee details worden verteld of weggelaten. Wat deze onverschilligheid nog mooier maakt is dat zij helemaal niet in onverschilligheid geschreven werd. Op iedere bladzijde merk je hoe secuur Sarah Hall een spel speelt met details. De verhalen schitteren juist zo prachtig doordat perfect uitgekiend is welke gegevens wel en welke niet verteld worden. Het zijn net de details die niet neergeschreven zijn die een verhaal vertellen.

Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Another book by yet another author who has been on my radar for such a long time. Sarah Hall’s The Beautiful Indifference is a short story collection, which spans places from Finland to Cumbria. I wasn’t enamoured with her writing style; I found that there was a heavy reliance upon dialects, which made the whole feel rather heavy and saturated. There was also only one story which I enjoyed, ‘Bees’. A lot of themes are repeated from one story to the next, and in retrospect, Hall is not an author ...more
Nov 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I was not familiar with Sarah Hall's work before and I liked some of the stories more than others. The first story in the collection, about a teen-aged girl's fascination with a tough family of horse trainers in the far north of England was excellent. The title story was less satisfying, the tone too artfully detached. Other stories in the collection fell between those poles, but when I finished them I was interested in checking out Hall's novels.
May 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
A good book of short stories. There is something about the Brits. They really know the Queen's English, and some of its orphans as well. I see lots of good reviews on Goodreads, almost all better than I could do, so I will just recommend it and let things stand at that.

Oh well, be sure to read that story about the mysterious dog on the beach. And the one about the traveler family that beats everyone up. And the one about the lake that turns red. And the one about the dead bees ..

paul pekin
Feb 01, 2013 added it
Shelves: shorts
Gave up. The style and language used were convoluted. The stories (or the first 40 pages mind you) felt belabored, messy, and constricted. The further I went into this book the less I imagined a reward. It's received many accolades, but our personalities conflict.

Worth a revisit since it's been a bit since I first picked this one up.
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
The title pretty much sums up one's response on reading.

The first story was mildly engaging. The others - meh. Indifference was the most one could muster. And the over-writing cause actual stomach pains in places.

Probably useful to read during root canal if the anaesthetic doesn't work.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Sarah Hall took a degree in English and Art History at Aberystwyth University, and began to take writing seriously from the age of twenty, first as a poet, several of her poems appearing in poetry magazines, then as a fiction-writer. She took an M Litt in Creative Writing at St Andrew's University and stayed on

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“In truth, she disliked books. She felt a peculiar disquiet when opening the pages. She had felt it since childhood. She did not know why. Something in the act itself, the immersion, the seclusion, was disturbing. Reading was an affirmation of being alone, of being separate, trapped. Books were like oubliettes. Her preference was for company, the tactile world, atoms.” 2 likes
“The truth of death is a peculiar thing. For when they leave us the beloved are as if they never were. They vanish from this earth and vanish from the air. What remains are moors and mountains, the solid world upon which we find ourselves, and in which we reign. We are the wolves. We are the lions. After so many nights treading the banks with the dogs and my brothers, intent on some mettlesome purpose I did not truly understand, night after night I dreamed of the river. I dream it now: a river of stolen perfumes, winding its way through our inverse Eden.” 2 likes
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