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Speaking With the Angel

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  5,706 ratings  ·  318 reviews
Nick Hornby…Giles Smith…Helen Fielding…Roddy Doyle…Irvine Welsh…Zadie Smith…Dave Eggers…Robert Harris…Melissa Bank…Patrick Marber…Colin Firth…John O’FarrellCompiled by bestselling author Nick Hornby and featuring brand new stories from the hottest writers on both sides of the Atlantic, Speaking with the Angel is a fresh and funny collection that is sure to be the literary ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 1st 2001 by Riverhead Books (first published 2000)
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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 ·  5,706 ratings  ·  318 reviews

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Bryce Wilson
Mar 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
I usually don't buy Anthologies as at best they're like Mix Tapes with a few bum tracks, this one went for a good cause though and was put together by Nick Hornby so I figured hey why not it's got a few bum tracks but it's still pretty strong. A Bit of a Breakdown.

-PMQ, Robert Harris: Very funny very British FPS Account of a Prime Minister having a nervous breakdown, a bit dry but I dug it.

-The Wonder Spot: Mellisa Banks- Look I know Chick Lit is an unseemly putdown that dismisses the work with
May 19, 2011 rated it did not like it
It's not that this book is bad (honestly I think GoodReads should add an 'eh it was whatever' rating to their scale so that we could correctly classify books that just sort of 'exist')'s just that I'm not entirely confident that anyone put their best foot forward with this collection. At times it almost feels like the authors sat around a table with a hat full of topic ideas and drew slips of paper.... Marber will write the "lose your virginity" story, Smith writes the humanizing prisoner ...more
Nicole Pramik
Speaking With the Angel is not my usual cup of reading tea as I'm a speculative fiction gal. But that doesn't mean I automatically pass over anything that doesn't involve aliens, magic, or paranormal beings. I can enjoy a good bit of literary fiction provided it holds my interest, and that's exactly what this short story anthology does for the most part.

Concerning the stories themselves, this anthology contains the following works (in order of appearance):
- "PMQ" by Robert Harris - Recounts one
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
A very interesting and varyingly eclectic subject-matter for short stories, some more interesting than others. My favorite story was young teenagers fucking their brains out for the first time to the Buzzcocks. Go figure. It was dirty, raw, and graphic. I loved it. I wish it reminded me of the first time I lost my virginity. Sadly enough, my experience was nothing like it.
Feb 27, 2016 rated it liked it
My 5 Question Review

Share a one sentence synopsis, please?
A collection of adequate McSweeney-esque short stories by the young literary elite of the early aughts.

What did you like?
The opening story about a runaway Prime Minister was pretty cute (“PMQ”), I appreciated the vulnerability of “The Wonder Spot”, and for an story with 'nipple’ in its title, “NippleJesus” was surprisingly enjoyable and thought provoking. Well done on that count, Mr. Hornby.

Can’t really knock this book too hard
May 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Dedicated to editor Hornby’s son Danny, $2 of the cover price of this collection will be donated to Treehouse, a school for autistic children. Hornby’s explanation of why this collection came about in the introduction is in itself a heart-felt piece of writing. And then he’s topped it with NippleJesus, a story about a nightclub bouncer turned art gallery security guard and his reactions to a controversial work called, you guessed it, NippleJesus.

My other favorite was PMQ by Robert Harris whereby
Mar 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I like short stories. In fact one of best stories I've ever read, including comics and full length novels, is 'The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains', a short by Neil Gaiman. A good short story is like a fling. You meet, smile at each other, embrace, kiss and kiss and kiss some more and all the happy chemicals explode in your head and just when you're beginning to catch your breath, it ends. It's a little supernova in a few thousand words and it impregnates the mind with endless worlds.

Dec 11, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
David Egger's short story "After I Was Thrown in the River and Before I Drowned" is included in this collection. It's one of my favorites--it's written from a dog's POV and he captures the dog's rhythms and (what a human might guess to be) the dog's mindset so so well. It's storytelling that leaves me awestruck. And, truthfully, it's the one (and only) story that stuck with me long after I read this collection. So, really, I need to just pick up more of Egger's short story collections and novels ...more
Lalaine David
Jun 11, 2015 rated it liked it
The book benefits the TreeHouse foundation for autistic children, which Hornby's son attended. In the introduction, Hornby starts off by saying he owes nothing to the readers, only to the contributors of the anthology, which seems like a haughty thing to say for someone who is doing charitable work.

This collection of stories is okay. Some stories are good, Hornby's NippleJesus being the best (he's editor, after all)

Runners Up:

Last Requests
Catholic Guilt
Walking into the Wind
Jul 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I love this book, perhaps a little too much. I bought it on a whim and it introduced me to Helen Fielding and Zadie Smith, gave me more from Hornby and Welsh and instructed me to steer clear of Eggers in the future (I know many love him, I'm just not there yet.) But I became smitten w/it when I read "Peter Shelley" by Patrick Marber, so much so that I attempted to hunt down his other works which only consist of plays (and I'm not one for plays).
Jessica Haider
An overall entertaining collection of contemporary short stories by mostly British authors such as Nick Hornby, Roddy Doyle, Giles Smith and Helen Fielding. I mean, come on, one of the stories is titled "NippleJesus", how can you resist that?
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Great collection of diverse short stories. I bought this book because of Nick Hornby and the fact he asked his friends to contribute stories, all proceeds for charity. And secondly because one of his friends is Colin Firth, needless to say he is not a great writer, but it was great fun just the same!
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Probably the best group of short stories I've read in a long time. Each story was great. Usually there are a lot of duds to get just a few good ones--not here!

VERY UKcentric. Most readers might need a translator at times.
Tracy Camp
Dec 14, 2017 rated it liked it
The first story, PMQ, was very fun. Loved it. A bit hum-drum throughout the rest of the book until my man Irvine Welsh popped up on the scene. The man can do no wrong. Colin Firth's story was my least favorite :(
Tiffany Manning
Jan 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
The best story in the set is narrated by a cook in a prison's kitchen, who has the chore of preparing last meals for the condemned. But many of the rest are poor.
Buying this book contributes to helping autistic children. For that reason alone, I'm glad I made the purchase.
Andrew Dolby
Jan 13, 2019 rated it liked it
On the back page of this book a previous owner wrote:

Some of the stories were really good, others not that good. Overall pretty good.

I would agree, but with the caveat that some of the stories were terrible, adding a third category.
Mimi Van Hecke
Sep 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
brilliant compilation and for charity! The best contribution is of course by the editor himself. Nick Hornby rules!!!
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
The stories in this collections weren't bad, but they were all sub-par to the works normally produced by these authors. I expected more and was sorely disappointed.
Mrs. Thomas
Dec 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This collection has some clever stories -"PMQ" and "LuckyBitch" are my personal favorites. But also has some disturbing flops. Judge for yourself.
Jas Deol
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I enjoyed some of the stories... the others were weird at best. But overall I was entertained!
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Normally not a fan of short stories but this was good.
Jul 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-books
The only thing these short stories had in common was that they were short stories. I still love Roddy Doyle. I'm still not a fan of Dave Eggers.
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent collection of short stories, mostly by British authors. I loved each story. Didn’t want them to end.
Jonah Kunisch
Mar 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting and refreshing to read a book from a British perspective (all British authors...I think).
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Short stories crafted by some brilliant writers!
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A superb collection of short stories.
Aug 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: funny
So let me make sure to point out, this is EDITED by Nick Hornby, though he does contribute 1 story himself. It's 12 different authors putting out short stories. Some are good, some are OK, and some are awful.

PMQ - Robert Harris - Hornby's brother-in-law, this is actually one of the funnier ones, about the British PM getting into a big misunderstanding with a reporter, a 15yr old girl, and reads like a Monty Python skit.

The Wonder Spot - Melissa Bank - If I were a feminist, I would be insulted by
Peter Cline
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
A fun collection of stories, if somewhat uneven.

Highlights include Robert Harris's rollicking tale of a British prime minister trying to explain away an evening of uncharacteristic behavior, and John O'Farrell's satirical tale about a man who eschews a career with the local corporate heavyweight to pursue his dream of producing "socially-aware mime art"
Suad Shamma
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, 2013, favourites
I am usually very wary when buying anthologies, because more often than not, you always get at least one or two fantastic stories, while the rest are mediocre, or terrible even. And after my experience with Nick Hornby's "About a Boy" - my first for him - I really didn't know what to expect, and I was looking forward to his story the least (yes, you must have deduced by now that I hated About a Boy).

However, this book pulled me in from page 1, with Hornby's very moving introduction. Hornby dedic
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
A few hits, many misses. This is kind of like the movie Grown Ups, where you get all these comedic geniuses together and you think it's going to be an uber-comedy and it just ends up falling flat because everyone's trying way too hard. I have read writing by nearly all of the authors in this collection of short stories, which are by an all-star cast of (mostly British) modern writers, including Nick Hornby, Zadie Smith, Melissa Bank, Helen Fielding, Patrick Marber, Dave Eggers, Irvine Welsh, and ...more
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Nick Hornby is the author of the novels A Long Way Down, Slam, How to Be Good, High Fidelity, and About a Boy, and the memoir Fever Pitch. He is also the author of Songbook, a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award, Shakespeare Wrote for Money, and The Polysyllabic Spree, as well as the editor of the short-story collection Speaking with the Angel. He is a recipient of the American Acade ...more

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