So You Want to Read… is a monthly feature here on eclectictales.com in which I recommend books by particular authors to readers who have never read a book from certain authors and would like to start. I’m always happy to recommend books and certain authors to my fellow readers and bloggers! 🙂
Happy October! For this edition of So You Want to Read…, I decided to feature Robert Shearman (see author tag). Seemed fitting as Hallowe’en is around the corner and his short stories can be pretty strange and eerie, just perfect for the season. Think Neil Gaiman but even more out there. But at the same time his stories really touch on some deeper human conditions and reactions to situations. I’m always excited when I learn that there’s a new collection of short stories out there by him because I know I’m in for a treat.
First time reading Robert Shearman’s works? Here’s my recommendations on where to start:
- Remember Why You Fear Me (review) — This was the first book I read by him, it still remains a favourite by him and the first I’d recommend. Perhaps especially perfect for the Hallowe’en season as some of the scenarios sound especially macabre, the collection is quite solid and thematically it’s quite rich.
- They Do The Same Things Different There (review) — I described this collection as quite eclectic in that I found myself wondering a lot of the times what’s so different about the setting of the story or what’s the odd feature about this story and that. There’s still the eerie/creepy factor to them but again they’re thought-provoking and quite clever.
- Tiny Deaths (review) — This collection was pretty interesting in that the overarching theme of death and its various manifestations and impact really bound the stories together (well, except one, IMO; might’ve missed the linking detail there). Sure, some of the stories were familiar as they reappeared in the above two volumes, but nonetheless it’s a great collection on the whole.
And that’s my list! If you’ve read Robert Shearman’s books, which one is your favourite? Which would you recommend for first-time readers? Or which books have you been meaning to get around to reading? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂
By: Robert Shearman
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase
Analyzing the complexity, absurdity, and blessedness of seemingly ordinary people, this debut collection examines the metaphysical assumptions surrounding death. From the end of a relationship to the meaning behind its title, this anthology continually surprises and subverts, utilizing topics such as alien intelligence, reincarnation, imaginary children, and even conversations with Hitler’s childhood pet. Engaging and diverse, this compendium offers a fascinating perspective on mortality.
So fun fact: this was actually the first Robert Shearman book I came across and that I added to my wishlist. It was a wee bit difficult then to get my hands on a copy of it but lo and behold, I finally did indeed get a copy of it so hurrah! 😀 Tiny side note, but how awesome is that book cover? One of my favourites that, coupled with the title of this book, definitely drew my attention in the first place 😛
Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical
By: Robert Shearman
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
The first love song in the world, as composed by a pig in the Garden of Eden.
The Devil, alarmed when his hobby of writing romantic fiction begins to upstage his day job.
A man finding love with someone who has an allergy to his happiness.
Another losing love altogther when his wife gives him back his heart in a Tupperware box.
By turns macabre and moving, horrific and laugh-out-loud funny, Robert Shearman’s short stories come from a place just to the left of the corner of your eye. Following his World Fantasy Award-winning Tiny Deaths, this new collection puts a bizarre twist on the love story. What is love, why does it hurt so much, and how is it we keep coming back for more? Sometimes poignant, sometimes cruel – but always as startling and fresh as Shearman’s fans have come to expect.
Book cover image found from Big Finish. My copy has a slightly different typography
A bit hard to tell with the way my book reviews have been scheduled these last few months but a) I’m on a bit of a roll with the short stories collections lately; I find them very easy to turn to when you’re busy studying for exams (supposedly) 😛 and b) this is the second collection by Robert Shearman I’ve read in the span of a month. I’ve read his later books Remember Why You Fear Me (review) and They Do the Same Things Different There (review) and loved them both. Slowly but surely I am tracking down his earlier collections now and checking them out 😉
They Do the Same Things Different There
By: Robert Shearman
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
Robert Shearman visits worlds that are unsettling and strange. Sometimes they are just like ours – except landlocked countries may disappear overnight, marriages to camels are the norm, and the dead turn into musical instruments. Sometimes they are quite alien – where children carve their own tongues from trees, and magic shows are performed to amuse the troops in the war between demons and angels. There is horror, and dreams fulfilled and squandered, and of true love. They do the same things different there.
I was introduced to Robert Shearman’s fiction a few years ago when I read and reviewed Remember Why You Fear Me (review). I really enjoyed it and had been meaning to check out more of his writings since. So yeah, I was pretty excited when I learned that this collection was released 🙂
Hi everyone! You may remember that some time ago I had reviewed a short story collection that was recently published entitled Remember Why You Fear Me (review) by Robert Shearman (many of you may know him for the episode he wrote for Doctor Who, “Dalek” (109)). It’s quite an interesting collection of short stories; as I had mentioned in my review it’s quite a range of stories–not necessarily steeped in horror in every story but intriguing, chilling and introspective in the themes that they explore.
Well, aside from reviewing the book last month, I also had the opportunity to interview the author as part of the blog tour organised by ChiZine Publications. ‘Twas very exciting (not to mention this blog’s very first author interview ever!) and I hope you enjoy the following interview. A big thank you again to ChiZine Publications for arranging it and to Robert Shearman for taking the time to answer my questions =)
- Remember Why You Fear Me is quite an eclectic collection of short stories! Which story did you enjoy writing the most? Do you have a particular favourite from this compilation?
It’s a funny thing, really. As you write each and every story, they feel like the most important one you’ve ever done. You get this wonderful idea in your head, and you think – this one, at last, is going to be absolute genius, so long as I don’t screw it up! And then the actual process of putting it down on paper is one of irritation and compromise, and the dismaying sense that that wonderful idea is being screwed up, and you’re doing your level best at damage limitation! Then, months later, you can look back at the story, and assess it for what it is coolly – and sometimes it’s rotten, but often it’s actually rather good, and you can feel a certain sense of pride. But by that point you’ve moved on to other ideas and other stories, and the emotional attachment you feel to the old stuff is a bit detached. So, it’s honestly hard to judge a favourite story, or which one I enjoyed writing the most (especially seeing the ones I most enjoyed writing are the ones I suspect I didn’t work at hard enough, so seem a bit lacking in retrospect!). The oldest story in the book is ‘Mortal Coil’, which was a rather fun idea about the whole world receiving letters from God informing them exactly when and how everyone’s going to die. I had no expectations at that point I would ever write another short story; I had been asked to give something to an anthology, and back then I was exclusively a dramatist, so it was like having a little holiday, creating something entirely new for an entirely new medium. That may be my favourite, because I felt so wonderfully irresponsible doing it!