So, this book costs $12, it contains 12 stories and all the proceeds go to charity. About half of these stories are really wonderful and two contain controversial language in their title. One of the longest stories is not actually written by a writer, but rather by a British film actor.
Considering all of “Speaking with the Angel”s” occasional shortcomings and obvious benefits, the book is worth your time and money. It”s a fantastic compilation of stellar and original voices and all profits go to benefit education for children with autism.
This anthology, compiled by Nick Hornby, could function as a “Who”s Who” of new, young writers in particular new, young, British writers. All stories are written from the viewpoint of first-person narrators.
The book is worthwhile even just for Hornby”s own story, “Nipple Jesus,” a security guard”s tale of his experience watching over a controversial work of art. The guard, who takes the job because his one skill is being “big,” offers a fresh and humorous perspective on the nature of shock-value art. Hornby, whose memoir about being a football fan launched his career, has an acute talent for turning ordinary narrators into exceptional storytellers.
Dave Eggers, the funniest living man on this planet, has contributed “Before I Was Thrown Into the River and After I Was Drowned,” a story from the point of view of a dog. The writing is ingenious, clever and witty. Any story that opens with the lines: “Oh, I”m a fast dog. I”m fast-fast. It”s true and I love being fast I admit it I just love it. You know fast dogs. Dogs that just run by and you go “Damn! That”s a Fast Dog!”” is a good story. Trust me, Eggers knows what he”s doing. Everyone should spend an extra $12 on his novel/memoir, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” which just came out in paperback.
Several other stories definitely worth mentioning are “The Wonder Spot” by Melissa Banks (“A Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing”), “Peter Shelley” by Patrick Marber (the playwright of “Closer”) and “I”m the Only One” by Zadie Smith (“White Teeth”).
Irvine Welsh (“Trainspotting”) interrogates life”s underbelly and is, per usual, wry, crass and inventive. His “Catholic Guilt (You know you love it)” is consistent with the quality displayed in “The Acid House,” his own anthology of short stories.
The biggest disappointment was Helen Fielding”s “Luckybitch.” Although “The Bridget Jones Diary” warmed the heartstrings of any Diet Coke-and-romantic-comedy loving soul, this story could barely keep anyone”s attention. That could be because it was about an old self-centered person instead of a young self-centered person.
The anthology also features stories by Robert Harris (“Fatherland”), Roddy Doyle (“Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha”) and Colin Firth (that”s the “movie guy,” from “Fever Pitch”).