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Hair Side, Flesh Side

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  40 reviews
A child receives the body of Saint Lucia of Syracuse for her seventh birthday. A rebelling angel rewrites the Book of Judgement to protect the woman he loves. A young woman discovers the lost manuscript of Jane Austen written on the inside of her skin. A 747 populated by a dying pantheon makes the extraordinary journey to the beginning of the universe. Lyrical and tender, ...more
ebook, 282 pages
Published November 15th 2012 by ChiZine
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  214 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Another wonderful collection of stories that I can't really call horror but more fantastic with occassional horrific moments scattered throughout. One of my weird fiction websites ran an interview with Marshall that really spurred my interest in her work, so I guess if I had to categorize this collection it would fall in to the weird genre. I enjoyed how Marshall was able to create these strange, almost outlandish situations but put normal everyday people in the settings to see how they would re ...more
Jun 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2013, kindle
Read because I try to read everything that the podcast Writer and the Critic review.

And damn, I am glad I did. So much lyrical, gorgeous writing in here, so many short stories that seem half poetry, half prose. So many vivid images that will linger with me (most notably right now, the woman who begins to peel her skin away to find a book inside). Seriously good.
Apr 10, 2017 rated it liked it
The intro to this collection captures these stories and their genesis perfectly: “Don’t go to a museum with Helen Marshall. And whilst you’re at it, don’t take her to an art gallery either, or anywhere where there might be statues or quirky bits of architecture, no where you might come across pieces of old pottery. Because such things fire Helen’s imagination.” One can almost picture the exact object, story, artwork or conversation that sparked each of the unique and often creepy stories in Hair ...more
Apr 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm almost glad I didn't win this on the Goodreads Giveaways, because then I'd have to leave an actual review, and I don't think I can do that.

This book was wonderfully creepy, it sent chills through my body and had me guessing in some of the tales. My favorite was the story from which the book took it's title, where Jane Austen's unfinished novel Sanditon was written on the inside of a woman's body. I connected the most with the story about Chaucer, because I have been to Oxford a few times and
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This debut collection takes on big concepts like history, memory and art, but it does so through stories that are surprisingly funny, quirky, emotional and human. My favorite story "Sanditon" focuses on an editor who, in the midst of an affair with a famous author, discovers a lost manuscript of Jane Austen written on the inside of her skin. She then must negotiate the power balance of their relationship as they try to publish. The story plays well off another story, "Dead White Men", where a tw ...more
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
I need to stop reading books with under 300 pages, but what a way to pad my Reading Challenge early, eh?

More of a 3.5, but I'll round up for just how much I loved many of the stories. Actually, I think the first story, "Blessed", was my favorite, even by the end. Little girls measuring popularity by how many and what kind of saint relics they own? SURE.

There's also a really disturbing piece in here about an alternate history where famous writers and scientists used human skin instead of papyrus
Nicholas Kaufmann
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Surreal, literate, and filled with existential longing, this debut collection of stories by Marshall masterfully fuses the fantastic to the emotions of our everyday lives. Marshall's prose is exquisite and precise, her ideas refreshingly original. The last time I felt this much enthusiasm and astonishment over a collection of stories was when I first read Kelly Link. Whatever Marhsall writes next, I'll be first in line to read.
Susanne Braburn
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the best short story collections of the year! Helen Marshall's got a really lyrical sense of prose writing that you can just fall into until -- WHAM! -- she hits you with the ending. A brilliant new writer to follow.
Matthew Rettino
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As an English literature grad from McGill who has taken several medieval literature courses, including a course on manuscripts and material culture, I can say that this as one of the Top 5 Story Collections I've Ever Read, right up there with Jeffrey Ford's A Natural History of Hell. Helen Marshall makes extensive use of manuscript culture in her weird fiction, making it surprisingly relateable for me in an unusual kind of way.

I am half tempted to have students read some of these stories, if I e

Hair Side, Flesh Side is a lyrical short story collection ranging from slightly humorous stories to downright horrifying tales. What they have in common is that all of them are strange, and are somewhat related to the human body. It’s a loose thread though, considering I wouldn’t even place some of these stories under the same genre. It’s dark fiction, yes, but I would’ve preferred if I could classify all of them under ‘horror’ or ‘bizar’, not a mix-match of things. I was continuously looking fo
The summary of this book seemed to promise a collection of disturbing or bizarre short horror stories that were all unique and rather unusual from others I may have read. These weren't horror stories at all, to say the least, nor were they that disturbing or bizarre or unusual.

If I had to tell a friend about this book and retell one of the short stories, the first one would be the only one that'd come to mind, the one about the girl who received a stuffed saint for her birthday. It was a strange
Barry King
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's no secret that I'm a fan of Helen Marshall's fiction and poetry, although how to distinguisn the one from the other is a little difficult at times. I like to think that there is a little hard ball, like uncut diamond, all brillant and uncompressable in the eye-glint of true and shining madness. In all these stories, there is a flash of that light running like water on a hot skillet skittering the surfaces of reality, using the commonplace furniture of life to define the space in between.

Jul 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Deeply strange things occur in these stories and because the people that populate them adapt so quickly, they themselves seem darker, not the types of people we would trust to be alone with in a poorly lit stairwell. There are so many beautiful words, so many disturbing images, and the stories run deep, if not long, because each explores several different aspects of humanity simultaneously. Body issues, relationships, philosophies, psychological landscapes, and fears branch off from the seemingl ...more
David Teller
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I found out about this book when Ellen Datlow listed it as one of the top collections of 2012, and I have to say that I wasn't disappointed. Helen Marshall has a unique voice: her images are startling, moving between the tragic, the beautiful and the horrific. Her stories have a wicked sense of humour to them. A girl who finds a lost manuscript of Jane Austen on the inside of her skin? Amazing! Her writing reads as an amazing cross between Neil Gaiman's love of the dark and mythic, Jasper Fforde ...more
M Griffin
Dec 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Many of the stories in Hair Side, Flesh Side, the debut collection of Canadian weird fantasist Helen Marshall, focus on books, libraries and manuscripts. Hair Side, Flesh Side presents a nice mix of straightforward emotions in realistic settings, balanced against off-kilter fantastic elements or surreal impossibilities. I love that these stories show great respect and affection for the world of literature, of books and stories, authors and libraries.
Jun 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was kind of meh. I really don't care about young men and women having their twisted sexual problems under somewhat weird circumstances ... whatever. However if you like such things, give it a try. I didn't actually finish it, but since I bought it, maybe I will read the rest of it some night when I have insomnia.
Mar 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Just creepy/off-putting/unsettling enough for me. They are told in parable style, so I'm not sure I always "got" what the point was, but, for once, I didn't mind. Marshall is a truly good storyteller.
The strangest collection of short stories I have ever read. Well written, some of them grabbed my interest and didn't let go; others, not so much.

I got this book through the Goodreads First Reads program.
toria (vikz writes)
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Just when I thought I had found my books of the year, this book arrives and blows many of them out of the water.
Tiffany Lynn Kramer
Feb 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf
I hate DNFing books, even more so when it's by an author who's other work I've liked or the book in question is an anthology. It's very possible I'll be missing out on a real gem but there are times when I just have to suck it up and walk away. Hair Side, Flesh Side is one of those rare, hard cases as I greatly enjoyed Marshall's short story The Hanging Game and found promise in each of the tales I managed to read in this collection. However even with that promise and the proof of her skill non ...more
There's a bluntness to Marshall's work that I enjoy, the juxtaposition of it with the soft and poetic language, the focus on the body and the mind, their intersections and battles. She slips the supernatural into the ribs of the mundane so easily that you don't realize how horrific it is until you see the blood. That creeping is the kind of horror I like best.
Seizure Romero
"Dead White Men" is my favorite, which is weird because it's the funny one in a collection of odd and creepy tales. Maybe it's odd and creepy that I found it funny. Not sure.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt, one of the best collections of short stories I’ve ever read. Gorgeously written, creepy, and evocative.
Pop Bop
May 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Disturbing, Elegant and Creepy

Here's the thing about anthologies, and about attempts to review, describe or comment on anthologies - well intentioned blurbers and reviewers give you one sentence summaries of the most remarkable stories, or even of each story. Depending on whether they liked the collection or disliked the collection they can easily make each story sound fascinating or tedious and derivative. The summaries are helpful, of course, and can be tasty come-ons, but they don't tell the
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I savored every word of each story in this collection. The writing is beautiful, and each story is a perfect little gem. That said, these a still what I would call fantastic horror, not gothic, slasher or Stephen King. The author has the kind of imagination that scares me, and yet I envy quite a bit. I think the first paragraph will reel you in. Give it a try.
An Redman
Feb 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Helen Marshall is a fantastic treasure, I hope she fills books and shelves and libraries and complexes with her short stories.

For me, however, there was a huge disconnect between the stories in this particular book. About half were quirky and featured diverse characters, settings, peculiar situations. And the other half chalk full of Helen's scholarly pursuits and antiquated interests.

Half grounded in academics and half a book four-sheets-to-the-wind-creative set up a dissonance that made me we
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Three pages into the first story, and I already LOVE this book!

These stories are so beautifully written. They are a creepy slow burn. You have a feeling of dread that never gets quite relieved. There's no boogeyman jumping out at you. It's a cold touch in the dark.

About halfway through, I realized all the stories were about change. Someone changing into someone else (or something else).

The only criticism I can think of is they may have wanted a proofreader to take another run at it. There were a
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hair Side, Flesh Side is a great collection, more proof - because I read her second anthology Gifts For the One Who Comes After before this one - that Helen Marshall is easily one of surreal/horror's most interesting, stylish ant talented writers. There's plenty of variety to be found in this book and another incredible set of short stories that delight at every turn. I'm excited to read a full novel from Marshall next! ...more
Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Haunting. Helen Marshall always delivers.

Blessed (7/10)
Sandition (8/10)
A Texture Like Velvet (4/10)
The Old and the New (6/10)
No Ghosts in London (7/10)
Pieces of Broken Things (4/10)
The Mouth Open (6/10)
Lines of Affection (5/10)
In the High Places of the World (7/10)
Holding Patterns (7/10)
The Book of Judgement (5/10)
The Art of Dying (5/10)
Dead White Men (6/10)
Eternal Things (4/10)
This Feeling of Flying (9/10)
Lisa Hannett
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great debut collection! All of the stories are wonderfully bizarre and grounded in fascinating ideas, but the real treasures in this collection come toward the end of the book: 'Holding Pattern', 'Dead White Men' (my favourite) and 'Eternal Things' are absolutely brilliant, exquisitely written and so human it hurts. The final story, 'This Feeling of Flying', is stunning.
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Helen Marshall ( is an award-winning author, editor, and bibliophile.

Her poetry and short fiction have been published in The Chiaroscuro, Paper Crow, Abyss & Apex, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet and In 2011, she released a collection of poems entitled Skeleton Leaves from Kelp Queen Press and her collection of short stories Hair Side, Flesh Side was released from Chi

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