Little Black Book of Stories

by A.S. Byatt | Literature & Fiction | This book has not been rated.
ISBN: 1400041775 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Zarylia of Saint Paul, Minnesota USA on 12/2/2004
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Zarylia from Saint Paul, Minnesota USA on Thursday, December 2, 2004
Got this at a book fair today though I really have no right to be buying books. I have a zillion books to read at the moment (some I bought last Christmas!), but this was just to tempting. I am currently reading another book by A.S. Byatt (Possession, on a bookring by goatgrrl) and I would have to say that it is possibly one of the best books I've ever read, absolutely incredible writing. Wow. Anyway, here's what I found on

Product Description:
A new collection of Byatt stories is always a winner and never fails to delight. This one takes an unexpected turn, bringing shivers as well as magical thrills.

The Little Black Book holds its secrets, and they will linger in your mind forever. Leaves rustle underfoot in a dark wood: two middle-aged women walk into a forest, as they did when they were girls, confronting their childhood fears and memories and the strange thing they saw -- or thought they saw -- so long ago. A distinguished male obstetrician and a young woman artist meet in a hospital. But both of them have very different ideas about body parts, birth and death. An innocent member of an evening class turns out to have her own decided views on how to use “raw material.” The five stories in this marvelous collection are by turns funny, spooky, sparkling, sad, and utterly unforgettable.

From Publishers Weekly
From secret agonies to improper desires and the unthinkable, this slyly titled collection touches on more than a little bit of darkness. Booker Prize–winning author Byatt (Possession) masterfully fuses fantasy with realism in several of these stories, packing a punch with her sometimes witty, sometimes horrifying examinations of faith, art and memory. In the stunning "The Thing in the Wood," two young girls, Penny and Primrose, sent to the countryside during the WWII London blitz, confront the unconscious come to life as a monster ("its expression was neither wrath nor greed, but pure misery.... It was made of rank meat, and decaying vegetation"). They return in middle age to face the Thing again, but Penny, a psychotherapist, doesn't fare as well as Primrose, a children's storyteller. A lapsed Catholic gynecologist tries to rescue a starving artist in "Body Art," enacting what Byatt casts as the very obstructiveness of the Church he left behind. It's a chilling story that shines with grace. Byatt's modern-day fairy tale, "A Stone Woman," details a woman's metamorphosis from flesh to stone, which is both terrible and redemptive ("Jagged flakes of silica and nodes of basalt pushed her breasts upward and flourished under the fall of flesh"). In "Raw Material," a creative writing teacher finds inspiration in the work of an elderly student who comes to a gruesome end, the student's life and death imitating bad art very unlike her own. The haunting final story of the collection, "The Pink Ribbon," about a man who is more troubled by remembering than by forgetting as he cares for his Alzheimer's-addled wife, turns on the appearance of the ghost of the wife's former self. With an accomplished balance of quotidian detail and eloquent flights of imagination, Byatt has crafted a powerful new collection.

From Bookmarks Magazine
Byatt’s readers fall into two camps. Some find her enthusiasm for minutiae in these Gothic tales infuriating—not everyone wants to read an extended description of the proper treatment of stoves. These detractors find this collection too smart for its own good, its many facts and metafictional digressions obstructing real emotion. Most readers, however, fell under Byatt’s spell. For all her book-learning, many agree that Byatt can spin a story that’s captivatingly scary—and perhaps more. Several praised these stories—“A Stone Woman” and “Body Art” in particular—as funny, poignant, and even uplifting. Byatt, award-winning author of Possession, may be only too willing to show off her knowledge of a variety of subjects. But for many, this knowledge only adds to her power.

From Booklist
Byatt is commanding. Her prose is crisp and astringent. Her insights are lacerating, her approach sly, her visions searing, her wit honed, and her imagination peripatetic and larcenous, feasting on art, myth, fairy tales, and science. While her novels, including the brilliant A Whistling Woman (2002) and the Booker Prize-winning Possession (1990), are complex and powerful, her short stories are dazzling concentrates. As in her earlier collections, The Matisse Stories (1995), The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye (1997), and Elementals (1999), Byatt creates, in her newest set of gems, a palimpsest of art and life as she examines how each shapes the other, and how trauma, be it personal or the mass psychosis of war, irrevocably transforms personalities and lives. In several galvanizing and highly original tales, including "Body Art," in which a gynecologist reluctantly gets involved with an angry young artist, she postulates deeply intriguing conflicts over the sacredness and profanity of the body and the vulnerability of the mind. And once again, Byatt proves herself to be the queen of fractured fairy tales. In "The Thing in the Woods," two young girls evacuated from London at the start of World War II see something loathsome in the forest, a grotesque embodiment of evil, while "A Stone Woman" stands as a gloriously beautiful evocation of grief and metamorphosis.

Are you sure you want to delete this item? It cannot be undone.