“To Cut a Short Story Short” is a collection of 111 short stories by author Simon J. Wood. As far as I can tell, this is the author’s debut work. The book (audiobook) is a remarkable quantity of short, intriguing tales that demonstrate a tremendous scope of story-telling skill. (The title is also quite clever, as there’s already a few variations of “To Cut a Long Story Short.”) The stories are brought to life by the phenomenal narrator, Angus Freathy.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m already a huge Angus Freathy fan, which is why I selected him to narrate my historical novels. Mr. Freathy is an absolutely superb voice actor. In addition to the classical British, Masterpiece Theater-esque gravitas he provides, he also demonstrates a very impressive array of accents and voices. His accents are wonderful in “A Friend in Need,” which takes the listener to a hot, sultry night in Rio. Across more than one hundred unique tales, the dialogue is crisp and distinctive. I don’t think Mr. Wood could have made a better choice for his narrator.
Mr. Wood’s stories, however, are equally excellent. Very short stories can be a tremendous challenge for an author, but he consistently rises to the occasion. In a span of a few minutes, he seizes the listener’s attention, and transports the listener to an intriguing setting with intriguing characters. Sometimes the tales are remarkably brief (like “The Majorette” or “What the Devil.”) “Caravan of Nightmares,” however, delivers the goods with over twenty-five minutes of content.
The author quickly establishes himself as a master story-teller, with each tale captivating the listener. Short stories (and very short stories) like this are part of a wonderful genre that is very easy to appreciate and enjoy. The genre works extremely well in the audiobook format, where listeners may want to immerse themselves in something from beginning to end in less than five minutes (perhaps during a car ride, or while running an errand).
Five stars to Simon J. Wood and “To Cut a Short Story Short.” Literature fans and audiobook fans will love these fascinating tales, with each one delightfully interpreted by an outstanding narrator.
6 September 2017
Even the stories dealing with the everyday hold your attention as the writing is so beautifully descriptive that the characters and scenes jump off the page, becoming instantly real and identifiable.
I particularly enjoyed the humorous take on the afterlife in ‘Angels and Cards’ and the twist in the tale of ‘A Dartmoor Childhood’ and ‘Legless in the Park’, off-set by the unexpected poignancy of ‘I Don’t Know What to Write.’
Several of the stories had me laughing out loud, but others, such as the disturbingly chilling ‘Caravan of Nightmares’ left me with a decided feeling of unease….
A great book to dip into for a quick read, or read from cover to cover and travel the roller-coaster of genres in one go.
In conclusion, there is something here for everyone.
10 September 2017
What a clever and special idea! What could be better value than 111 stories in a single book, each one quite unique and equally intriguing. They are a snapshot of something bigger and they leave you wondering what went before and what happens after. Pick it up when you have a moment or, if you can, ration yourself to a couple a week, that way they will last all year. I intended to read the stories as an interlude between longer books but I found it difficult to put down.
Review of To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. II: 88 Little Stories
To purchase the stories (up to Dec 2018) in paperback, Kindle eBook, and audiobook form, please see Shop.
If you are interested in joining a fortnightly 400 word story group please contact me and I’ll send details.