Short story collections are often used to display a writer’s range of skills – whether in dialogue and description, or in their ability to handle a variety of different writing styles and genres. On the other hand, such collections can equally present a handful of the crap at the bottom of the author’s literary barrel, or to put it another way, a place to accumulate all the stuff that won’t fit anywhere else.
The latter option is not one of those books. ‘She Receives the Night’ is a fascinating and completely absorbing collection of brilliantly written and beautifully told stories that show off the author’s talent like the shining star it is. Even if you hate short stories, you’ll find something here that will move you, bring you to tears, or fill you with a nice warm glow at the sheer luck of finding such a wonderful book. My own favourite was ‘With her Ear Pressed to the Earth’, where the simple act of a young man wanting to change his name through marriage, results in an unraveling of his whole relationship. The story had me flicking through the pages with something approaching breathlessness. In truth, the beauty of the language at times left me panting. How can anyone write so damn well?
Okay, I admit it – I’m jealous. Shine on, Mr Earle.