If you happen to live in UK and got your hands on their today's issue you have probably already read their exclusive short stories. If not, you can read them here.
I went straight for Lionel Shriver after being so impressed with her story in the collection reviewed below. I know for a fact Shriver is an excellent writer but the story in the Stylist left me cold. I felt that Shriver just phoned it in.
It was a story about a couple who bought a house and became so serious and responsible that somehow they lost the magic that kept them together and eventually they separated. The symbolic image in the story are racoons who are first presented as exotic nighttime visitors but eventually become despised vermins. Actually, my description of the story makes it sound better than it is (ha, ha) and I realise it could work. By getting rid of the racoons the couple has lost their 'wild life'. It seems that the original story was longer but Shriver had to cut it to fit within the word limit. It ended up not having enough impact.
I know it is hard to get the reader feel emotional about the characters and the story when you have about 2000 words to do it. This is why short stories are hard and their small size shouldn't fool anyone into believing they can be pulled off successfully by amateurs.
If you have read the story, what did you think?
I will report back on the remaining four stories.