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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Hmmm, a bit of a curate's egg this one. If you like 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.
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.
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.