Pick some short stories for me!
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I like jumping around when I read, so I intend to read them concurrently - could you all help me by selecting your favourite 4 or 5 stories from each volume for me to read first?
I'm sure you will get responses from other members. There are so many great stories, that it's hard to choose favorites. However, my short list would have to include the following:
The Mirage (previously published as The Opium Addict)
The Door of Opportunity
Mr Know All
The Force of Circumstance,
and perhaps his best known story, Rain
Happy reading and, likewise, welcome!
I have managed to *never* read Rain. Insane, I know!
It's an excellent one-volume introduction for newcomers. It contains the following:
1. The Pacific
3. The Fall of Edward Barnard
6. The Casuarina Tree
7. Before the Party
8. P & Q
9. The Letter
10. Mr Harrington's Washing
12. The Princess and the Nightingale
13. The Round Dozen
15. The Alien Corn
16. The Door of Opportunity
17. The Vessel of Wrath
18. The Book-Bag
20. The Judgement Seat
21. Gigolo and Gigolette
22. The Colonel's Lady
23. The Kite
As it might expected from Mr Curtis, the selection is quite excellent. There are some rarities, too, such as nos. 1, 5 and 6 (introductory/concluding pieces from his first two mature collections, long out-of-print) and one of his finest earliest stories, ''Daisy'', the first one to mention ''Blackstable'' and otherwise not very easy to obtain.
Almost all stories are of moderate to great length where Maugham is at his best. The exceptions are again well chosen: Maugham's only fairy tale (12), his parable about duty and happiness (20) and his finest tribute to goodness in so short a space (19).
The long stories are perfectly selected. There are exotic tales, both in the South Seas (2-4) and in the Far East (7-9, 16-18). And there are European tales, mostly set in England and Scotland (11, 13-15, 22, 23) but also on the Riviera (21).
Only two qualms do I have with the selection. ''Mr Harrington's Washing'' is hardly the finest of Ashenden's ''spy'' adventures. ''The Traitor'', ''The Hairless Mexican'' or ''Guilia Lazzari'' would have been better. And the omission of the story ''Virtue'' is unforgivable - and Mr Curtis knows it.
Anyway, you can't go wrong with this collection as a first choice. It's every bit as good as, if not better than, any of the four volumes of the ''Collected Short Stories''. It displays Maugham's full range: from harrowing drama to amusing satire.
Only the book actually seems to be a little hard to find, both the new Vintage edition and the old The Nonesuch Press/Reinhardt Books one from 1990. What a shame!