Don't Try This at Home

Author(s): Angela Readman

Fiction - Contemporary

A girl repeatedly chops her boyfriend in half but, while her 'other half' multiplies, she is still not satisfied. Love transforms a mother working down the chippie - into Elvis. Clary's father puts antlers on stuffed rabbits to make jackalopes, but when her mother walks out on them, Clary has to help her father if they are to survive. Beautiful, sharp and fearless, Costa Short Story Award winner Angela Readman's debut collection is aptly titled, for each story packs its share of explosive material. Exposing all kinds of prejudice - against age, status, disability - the stories also offer quirky new strategies for troubled lives. If Angela Carter is Readman's fairy godmother, then David Lynch is her wicked stepbrother. Don't say you weren't warned ...

Readman's stories in this beautifully presented collection are as savage and precisely thrown as the finest nail-bombs, full of diamond-headed nails. Whether telling of a woman who keeps cutting her boyfriend/husband in half, replicating him until she lives with a myriad possible versions of him; or of the teenager who inherits (literally) the secret of irresistible attraction, and the concomitant pleasure of walking away, from her aunt; or of the girl whose mother has a latent Elvis awakened in her by a young woman as she works at the local fish and chip shop; or of the girl with the head of a dog, Readman serves up stories that are at once surreal and subtle, funny and tragic, crazed and psychologically astute. Several of the stories remind me of those of Angela Carter: children push through into an adulthood that has not had a chance to prepare itself for them, stereotypes are worn inside-out to show their linings, characters crushed by society escape through the cracks opened by that crushing. - Thomas


 


This is a collection of short stories that makes you look sideways at the world. Opening with a story about relationship dissatisfaction, a woman keeps cutting her boyfriend in half hoping to get a bit more out of him. The first few cuts with the spade are quite successful and she is moderately happy with her lot, but what else could be forthcoming? As you can imagine, the result isn't always what you expected. From the first story I just had to keep reading. Other favourites are 'Dog Years' and 'When We Were Witches'; both reminiscent of Angela Carter. Other stories play out the tragic lives of the damaged or disadvantaged, in 'Shine On' a young woman is obsessed with getting her grotty flat to smell like fresh lemons, and in 'The Keeper of Jackalopes' a man and his daughter living a piecemeal trailer home existence are fighting off the encroachment of a supermarket onto their land. Readman is a wonderful short story writer, telling us just enough to join the dots with a wry, sometimes wicked manner. - Stella

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Product Information

2013 Costa Short Story Award winner

Sabotage Reviews award for best short story collection 2015

‘Angela Readman’s stories are gems. Rainbow-coloured ones that probably glow in the dark and sing too. They are perfect, fizzing explosions of stories, told by a perfect storyteller. You will love them.’  Nik Perring, author of Not So Perfect

  • ‘Sparky, shining writing that zings from the page. Subversive, funny and incisive. A real talent.’  Sarah Hilary, author of Someone Else’s Skin
  • ‘Angela Readman’s stories are fantastic, delightful gifts. You don’t open them, they open you. They open you to the amazing, the tragic, the odd and the gorgeous. This is a very special collection.’ Toby Litt, author of Hospital and one of Granta magazine’s Best of Young British Novelists
  • ‘In a fantastical world of witches, saints and talking toys, Angela Readman’s characters struggle to escape the prison of their all-too-real circumstances. A wonderful, wonder-full debut collection.’ Adam Marek, author of Instruction Manual for Swallowing
  • ‘The characters that drift through these stories are alienated from each other and from themselves, but each story shows a curiosity about the oddities of life that burns through the prose, bringing to life a world filled with surprise that is also surprisingly funny. A brave collection packed with striking concepts daringly pursued.’ Richard Beard, author of Lazarus is Dead and Director of the National Academy of Writings
  • ‘With coolly unassuming delivery and not a single word out of place, this is storytelling at its best. A remarkable collection of delightfully skewed stories.’ Caroline Smailes, author of The Drowning of Arthur Braxton
  • ‘[A] masterclass in the surreal … This slim volume is a great commuter read, and shows why she won the Costa Short Story Award.’ Max Wallis,  10 Best Spring Reads, Independent

Angela Readman's stories have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines, winning awards such as the Inskpill Magazine Short Story Competition and the National Flash Fiction Competition. In 2012 she was shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award for 'Don't Try This at Home' - an award she would go on to win in 2013 with the story 'The Keeper of the Jackalopes'. Readman is also a published poet.

General Fields

  • : 9781908276520
  • : And Other Stories
  • : And Other Stories
  • : May 2015
  • : 198mm X 129mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : May 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 320
  • : Angela Readman
  • : Paperback
  • : 823.92