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The penguin book of contemporary New Zealand short stories

Paula oorris – Editor(Penguin, $40)

Those of us with extra guilt reserves often find complications in even the most pleasurable of experiences. oe, I can’t skip a track on a CD because I’m worried about hurting the feelings of the songs I’m not listening to.

So it is sometimes with short story collections. These tomes can be quite hefty and rather than risk feeling bad about not starting at the beginning and ploughing my way through to the end, I sometimes give the whole thing a miss.

But guess what? New Zealand writer Paula oorris, who edited this new collection of our best and briefest, says the ideal way to get the best out of an anthology is not to trudge through every story in order. Approach it like a box of chocolates, she says. Start with your favourites and then try something else and, who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself forever converted to Turkish delight (which happened to me, by the way).

Having recommended the “dip in” approach, however, Paula does kick off the collection with Barbara Anderson’s Real Beach Weather for a good reason – it’s immensely satisfying, despite its brevity, which is the hallmark of a good short story. A tasty little appetiser for what lies within

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