A Selfie As Big As The Ritz By Lara Williams – A Review

Publisher: Flatiron Books

I’ll say right off the bat that I find it quite challenging to write reviews of short story collections and I’m not really sure why! Are you supposed to talk about each story individually? The ones you enjoyed the most? Over arching themes? Just focus on the writing?…..who knows!

But I felt that I had to at least have a bash at telling you about this collection because I think it’s great.

Lara Williams is a new author to me, I put her upcoming novel Supper Club on my most anticipated reads of 2019 list because it sounds so amazing. You know when you get a feeling about an author before you’ve even read a word they’ve written? Well…..I went online and did a little research and discovered she has also written short stories.

This is a collection of 21 contemporary stories surrounding love, the difficulties of modern relationships and the challenges in life.

She finds herself single, twenty-nine, partially employed, and about a half a stone overweight. Roller dexter of eligible friends rattling thin. Thirties breathing down her neck like an inappropriate uncle. She jogs. Looks good in turquoise. Finds herself punctuating gas ‘better out than in!’ Patting her stomach like a department store Santa. This is who I am, she thinks.

There are elements of sharp witted humour, details of modern day life that we can all identify with. Along side this there are some darker moments and I think the mix was perfect.

There are short stories of around 2 or 3 pages and some slightly longer more involved stories. I think if I’m honest I enjoyed the shorter stories, they packed more punch and had much more impact. I don’t think I always quite ‘got’ the message that each of the stories was trying to convey, then again maybe they didn’t all have a message to get across. If I’m honest I enjoy a short sharp story which leaves me thinking and guessing and trying to draw my own conclusions. A story that isn’t neatly tied up in a bow.

Although the stories are short and sharp, the authors language is quite beautiful. I must admit that I had to flip to the back cover to discover more about her as there were times that I didn’t understand whether she was American or British. She’s British as it happens, and from my marvellous home city of Manchester, however even though some of the stories mention the location as being in the UK some of the language and spelling of words was Americanised. Store instead of shop, the use of the word ‘gotten’ (which I don’t like) and spelling centre as ‘center’. It did kind of distract me a bit.

As a forty year old married mother of two I don’t think I was entirely the target reader for this book, seeing as most of the women involved were late twenties/ early thirties, either trying to embark on new relationships or enduring break-ups. Having said that it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. I liked the fact that the women weren’t perfect (who is!?), they didn’t have their shit together as they say and that makes for a very compelling collection of stories.

I would recommend it if you’re in the market for short stories. It’s beautiful too!

See you soon.

Bookish Chat xx

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