January 16, 2013

And Also Sharks by Jessica Westhead: Review

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I have a love/hate relationship with short story collections. They’re hit and miss. Most of the time I end up feeling meh about them. I find it hard to review them, since there are always stories I like and ones I don’t. It’s more challenging than reviewing novels, for me at least.

And Also Sharks by Jessica Westhead is a collection of stories about a variety of ordinary weirdos, the socially awkward of society. I can’t claim to be a fascinating socialite so I should be able to relate somewhat. Maybe too much, because I cringed and felt a second-hand embarrassment for the characters. Sometimes I even felt sad for them. I think that’s what kept me from enjoying this book. I’ve never been a fan of The Office because I always felt bad for Steve Carell’s character for the same reason. People seem to find it funny, so what do I know? I guess it’s a matter of taste.

I did like a few of the stories, like Coconut, probably because it’s less believable than the others. In it, Shelley gets back from vacation and has become so used to getting things “for free” she starts shoplifting. Eventually, it leads to kidnapping. Sounds terrible but it isn’t. What Would I Say is another one I enjoyed. The narrator is such an arse that I didn’t mind her embarrassing herself. She’s a definite fake-friend.

I’m on the fence about the rest. I didn’t give up reading it so that counts for something these days. I did enjoy the writing and the quirkiness of the stories. I think you just have to like this sort of thing.

7 comments :

  1. It's funny that you enjoyed the less believable story the most. I kind of understand, though - my sense of humor seems to be different from the norm too.

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    1. It's definitely a case of what I find funny.

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  2. This is one I'd like to try because it sounds vaguely weird. Kind of like one of my fave collections, No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July. Or it could go the way of collections I hate. Hard to say. ;)

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    1. Yeah, I never know how I'm going to feel about a collection until I'm well into it.

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  3. I am the same way when it comes to short story collections and have the same issues when trying to review them.

    I am so glad you mentioned that you aren't a fan of The Office! I'm not either. Like you, I always felt kind of sorry for Steve Carell's character.

    Anyhow, I am not sure this short story collection is for me, but I can see why it might appeal to many readers.

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  4. I tend to enjoy short story collections but I could not get through Andi's fave, the Miranda July. It was a little too weird for me. Further Interpretations of Real-Life Events is a quirky collection that I loved, though - one of my favorite books in 2012.

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  5. I only read short story collections by authors I *know* I love. Even then they are kind of hit and miss. There's usually one good one and bunch of others I don't care about.

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