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Like Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm, Isak Dinesen and Angela Carter, A. S. Byatt knows that fairy tales are for grownups. And in this ravishing collection she breathes new life into the form.
Little Black Book of Stories offers shivers along with magical thrills. Leaves rustle underfoot in a dark wood: two middle-aged women, childhood friends reunited by chance, venture into a dark forest where once, many years before, they saw—or thought they saw—something unspeakable. Another woman, recently bereaved, finds herself slowly but surely turning into stone. A coolly rational ob-gyn has his world pushed off-axis by a waiflike art student with her own ideas about the uses of the body. Spellbinding, witty, lovely, terrifying, the Little Black Book of Stories is Byatt at the height of her craft.
“A delight. . . . Byatt's stories are provoking and alarming, richly yet tautly rendered. . . .[She] has the sheer narrative skill to raise the hairs on the back of your neck and make your pulse race.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Bewitching . . . immensely readable, fiercely intelligent, and studded with astonishing, refracting images. . . . A virtuoso performance by a master storyteller.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Striking . . . marvelous . . . impressive. . . . Byatt’s Gothic touch transforms commonplace English settings and characters into unsettling zones of loss and fear.” –The Boston Globe
“A storyteller who could keep a sultan on the edge of his throne for a thousand and one nights.” –The New York Times Book Review
“Scrumptious . . . these are raw, tough, disruptive stories about memory, duty, madness, guilt, cruelty and loss, stories that grope and reel, that throb with secret longings, secret histories, artistic yearnings and the thrashes and groans of a stinking damnation in the underbrush.” –Miami Herald
“Her finest collection yet. . . . Bleak then surprisingly funny, very dark indeed then full of inconceivable sources of light.” –The Guardian
“Beautifully crafted. . . [Little Black Book of Stories] prods at the tender points where art, pain, and desire intersect.” –The Financial Times
“A delightful surprise. . . . A heady infusion of mythology and everyday life, with a strong undercurrent of horror. . . . Moving, thought-provoking, witty, and shocking all at once.” –The Sunday Telegraph
“Haunting . . . Astonishing . . . Vivid . . . Moving . . . [Byatt] is an athlete of the imagination, breaking barriers without apparent effort.” –The Nation
“A sophisticated and powerfully realized work. . . . A bravura performance of imaginative artistry.” –The Times Literary Supplement