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Sawn-Off Tales

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David Gaffney's compact, surreal tales are filled with poignancy and wit. Each story goes off like a tiny depth charge in the mind, leaving you with the trace memory of some new urban myth - comic, absurd and disturbingly true.

128 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2006

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David Gaffney

31 books14 followers

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5 stars
40 (25%)
4 stars
58 (36%)
3 stars
47 (29%)
2 stars
12 (7%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews
Profile Image for Carol.
698 reviews2 followers
November 14, 2017
My first taste of 'Flash Fiction'; complete short stories in around 200 words. David Gaffney is apparently the master of this genre. Some are amazing; complex characters, themes and plot lines with careful crafting and tension, and with 'killer' endings. But, I've either missed something or most are pretty inconsequential. Reminds me of the 'mini sagas' but longer. Give me an 800 page Victorian classic any day, with plenty of chocolate.
Profile Image for BurritoChris.
149 reviews3 followers
December 8, 2020
I dip into this collection every now and again just to see if it's as excellent as I remember, and it's always a joy to find that it's actually better.
These are very very short stories. Most of them are very funny and pretty much all of them are more odd than anything you've encountered before. But my favourites are the ones that are weirdly sweet. Last Chance to Turn Around is especially nice.
I'm not saying I read the entire thing at work today on the Kindle Cloud Reader while it looked like I was doing something important. But I am also saying that.
Less than two pounds on Kindle and well worth your time. So good.
Profile Image for Jan.
541 reviews
January 24, 2023
A selection of "micro stories" - really too short to even count as short stories!

These were entertaining and amusing and occasionally a bit odd ball but they made a fun quick read.

My only complaint would be that the book is pretty large print and wide spacing but some of the stories went over to a second page by just one line! This started to really bug me and I wish they could have adjusted the spacing slightly to avoid this! I don't know why this niggled me so much, but it did!
Profile Image for Peter Caffrey.
Author 46 books49 followers
January 11, 2019
Gaffney’s short flash pieces meander between the brilliant and the banal, and whilst he is undoubtedly a talented creator of short fiction, some of the stories felt as if they’d been created as space fillers. That said, the stronger pieces are well worth the investment.
Profile Image for Sef Churchill.
Author 7 books4 followers
June 18, 2018
Hilarious, shocked, addictive

A multitude of entertaining tiny stories from David Gaffney. Once started, impossible to put down. Five stars, all round excellent.
Profile Image for Polly.
110 reviews14 followers
August 14, 2022
Microfictions. Gripping little stories for the odd five minutes, but somehow I got drawn in and read the whole in two sittings. One or two definitely longer in your head. I'll be rereading one!
41 reviews
December 28, 2020
Like most short story collections, this collection had some really beautiful, funny, touching, chilling, good tales and it also had some tales that were none of those things. Particularly some of the stories that were meant to be funny did not, as they say, tickle my funny bone. I read this book because I really liked the article the author wrote about it which I read in a creative writing class. This was not a particularly long book so time-wise, it was a fine investment but I don't think I will pick up the second one of these books.
Profile Image for Laura Turner.
5 reviews7 followers
March 29, 2011
Sawn Off Tales appear to be short stories which offer a form of snapshot. However as the title of the collection suggests, rather than giving the reader a posed and contrived instance, they are violently abbreviated and unexpectedly truncated. The real treat with Sawn Off Tales is that whilst this is the case, each tale does have a feeling of completeness, even if it is merely the recounting of an impulse, an emotion or the most wistful of memories.

While the highly abbreviated nature of the collection (it takes less than 40 minutes to read in total) may irk some readers, what really impresses is that the majority of the stories incorporate some form of twist at the end. Upon the delivery of this `punchline' in many cases the previous content of the fable is revisited in a new light. This approach means that Gaffney manages to create layers and depths in paragraphs which many struggle to achieve in volumes. The term `punchline' for the revelation at the end of many of the stories may also be appropriate due to the humorous content of Sawn Off Tales.

I felt largely sympathetic to the majority of dysfunctional and seemingly disconnected characters in Sawn Off Tales. Not necessarily the luckiest, most successful or even the most stable members of society, they are delivered with such a degree of pathos and humour that the viewer embraces them with affection despite their (often alarming) faults in a way that avoids patronising the protagonists.

The tale of the man who collects the smiley potato shapes from his meals right up until the call of the health inspector, succeeds in making the reader both laugh at and sympathise with the character in spite of the discomfort at the underlying darkness of the mood.
Profile Image for Oleg Shevelyov.
Author 1 book12 followers
January 15, 2015
The book started off very well, I was actually amazed at how skillful the author was to make work those ultra-short stories. I was very inspired also and was eager even to try myself in flash fiction genre. However the more stories from the book I read, the less enthusiastically I became.

Closer to the end I couldn't wait but finish the book as soon as possible. I really liked only a few stories, some were curious, most didn't make me feel anything at all. I admit that probably I didn't understand some of those "bad" ones, probably they were too English for me or I just don't know some local specifics.

I give the book 3 stars instead of 2, as I wanted initially, only because it was unusual and sort of entertaining to figure out what's each story is about. Each of them is a true puzzle, sometimes it was hard to make sense of a story at all until I finished reading it!
Profile Image for Canavan.
961 reviews16 followers
February 19, 2019

This collection includes 59 stories. My favorites:

“Intimate Zone” ✭✭✭½
“We Like It Here” ✭✭✭½
“Light Lunch” ✭✭✭½
“With Tongues” ✭✭✭½
“Kick Inside” ✭✭✭½
“The Funny Way I Feel Inside” ✭✭✭½
“Doctor Logic” ✭✭✭½

All stories published 2006.
115 reviews4 followers
July 9, 2013
I read these 58 short short stories (most only a page and a bit in length) in four sittings. I thought the novelty of the form might wear thin or the stories would blur into each other. But they remained distinct, imaginatively engaging and unpacking (or semi-unpacking) a greater depth of story than their meagre length might suggest. I read a review that said this was a hit and miss collection. I saw them mainly as hits - poignant, wry or surreal - but with a few that really packed a punch. I think this is a set of stories I will go back to repeatedly. Sawn-off but neatly so.
Profile Image for Becky.
Author 6 books5 followers
September 7, 2014
Gaffney shows he is a master of the flash fiction form with this wonderful collection. I bought this book a couple of years ago and picked it up last night on Day 2 of caffeine withdrawal because I couldn't concentrate on a novel. These are humorous stories contemporary British life and people's idiosyncrasies so perceptive about that they consistently make you feel uncomfortable. I love how he waltzers idioms into preposterous tales that are, at the same time, recognisable. A perfect book to read when you have a short attention span, or on any other occasion come to that.
Profile Image for russell barnes.
464 reviews18 followers
August 15, 2016
Hmmm, a bit of a curate's egg this one. If you like John Hegley you'll notice a lot of similarities: They feel like poems in length and rhythm, and deal in the minutae of everyday life in a wry and whimsical way. Sometimes it worked really well, like snatches of half-heard drunken conversations in the pub, but most were like half-heard boring conversations in the Post Office.
Profile Image for David.
Author 12 books136 followers
March 2, 2011
Despite being such short delightfully absurd little koan-like stories, I found I really needed to spend a lot of time with each one. There was so much going on in such a little space that if I didn't slow down and turn them over in my mind a bit I missed things. They seemed almost like poems in that regard. Gaffney is amazing on how he packs so much in so little. I am definitely impressed.
Profile Image for sisterimapoet.
1,138 reviews17 followers
September 12, 2011
A nice little collection of short shorts - great to dip into when you've only got a minute or two of reading time available. At times it felt like there was a formula that Gaffney was working with. It became possible at times to predict the tone of the pieces. But there were enough that shook the mix up. At times funny, often odd, occasionally truly touching.
Profile Image for Alan.
Author 11 books161 followers
January 21, 2008
Lively, funny tales from a British writer. Short and mostly sweet, sometimes a bit weird. Should be 4 stars but can't get it to save 4 stars!
Profile Image for Santino Prinzi.
Author 13 books15 followers
April 3, 2014
These flash fictions are simply wonderful. Stop reading this review and start reading this book.
Displaying 1 - 21 of 21 reviews

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