Monday 3 September 2018

A Discovering Diamonds review of The Singing Chair And Other Stories by Herta Maria Moser

Short Stories
Various, mostly 20th Century
Europe various

A very diverse set of short stories written in a refreshingly simplistic way that adds rather than diminishes. Some are quite long; one or two are only a page or so. All of them are eminently readable and well crafted. Largely they are about life in general, ordinary things that the charm of the writing make important. I especially liked the opening story That's How It Is and also Portrait of a Man with Red Hair, which is a ghost story. Or is it? And even Monty Python gets a mention in a delightful little story about a man's first day of retirement!

The stories cover the present day and go back to the 1920s and ‘30s and are set in a variety of locations, though mostly Austria and England. Some are personal recollections, simple things that for some reason we all have stuck in the back of our minds. Which is what makes this collection so alluring.

This is a large volume – just over 450 pages and there is a reason: the type face used was larger than normal (but not large enough to be termed Large Print) which is OK for those who may have trouble with small print. Inexplicably, double spacing is used between paragraphs. I found this not only off-putting but also meant that some pages, especially those with dialogue, were ridiculously short. As for the cover, I felt the design  could have been given far more thought: the illustration – a painting by the author – is fine but should have either been left 'unframed' and/or  taking up the whole space available. I didn't like the font – which is also used for the story titles – because it is rather hackneyed and simply not bold enough. On these points I feel the author has been let down badly by the publisher of the book – paid to produce something of quality, but failed to do so particularly regarding the line-spacing.

Nevertheless, I recommend this lovely collection.

© Richard Tearle

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