British

Six Books For A Desert Island #6

It proves to be an easier task than I expected, winding up of this series. The short story form has been a favourite of mine ever since I picked up a David Eggers’ Best of McSweeney’s Vol. 2 collection of American current and contemporary short fiction. It was a period when I went to the lending library regularly, a time before the iPad and ebooks for me.

Since that book, I’ve read quite a few short story compendiums and collections, some by one author and a fair number translated from different languages.

I’m surprised that in some quarters the short story is regarded as a lower form of literature. That’s nonsense! Give me a short story collection over a 600 page saga any day.

The Penguin Book Of Modern British Short Stories (Various Authors)

Why do I like them? I enjoy the variety within a single read: different styles, inventiveness, ideas, perspectives, genres – and sometimes written in different periods in literature. It introduces the reader to a variety of writers, some I may not have tried otherwise for their longer novels. If any story isn’t your style, there are others. I can dip in and out the collection at any time.

It’s not easy choosing one over the rest on merit so I’m electing to support the home team and selecting Penguin’s Book of Modern British Short Stories. It’s a varied selection featuring some renowned writers; it’s extremely good.

Other similar reads to consider;

The Door In The Wall by H.G. Wells

A brilliant collection by the old master of Sci-fi, futurism and fantasy.

Russian Short Stories, from Pushkin to Buida by Various Authors

Amazingly varied. An excellent introduction to Russian literature, one of the best for the short story form. Examples from the nation’s renowned names and a few we might not have known.

Best of McSweeney’s Vol.2 by Various Authors

Of course! Equally varied, entirely American (I think), one of the best countries for the short story form too.

Aunty on Animation

It would seem that the BBC of late hides its lights under the bushel of its online only output – the iPlayer.

Following on from the very worthwhile bio documentary on British DJ David Rodigan and Reggae, another documentary caught my attention, another perennial interest of mine: stop-frame animation.

With CGI, stop-frame animation is likely seen as a niche and probably quaint pursuit. When it can take years to produce a five minute film, the first question on unsympathetic lips must be, why bother? It’s like the audience I was in, listening to an Oxford busker perform a longish piece on a didgeridoo. He was, as the didge goes, very accomplished but I overheard a boy whisper to his friend, “Uh, I can do that on my Casio”. I guess you get it or you don’t.

And so it is that stop-frame animators, to the informed at least, have the status of artisan and artists, not mass produced manufacturers of cartoons by computers.

As the programme explains, there is something quintessentially British about British animation historically. I think it’s possibly because there are no rules but also, as explained, there is no money. Anyway, I love it.

Here’s a couple of my favourites featured for those unable to view BBC iPlayer. If you can get it, the link is below.

This is from Osbert Parker’s Clothes (1988).

In this animation, he used a collection of vintage clothes and props laid out across his apartment floor in a sequence planned from a storyboard.

As with any stop-frame technique, the clothes are slightly rearranged before each subsequent shot – you get the picture.


Joanna Quinn is an amazing draughtsman. Such exquisite drawings and detailed expressions on her characters’ faces.

This is Girls’ Night Out (1987) about a group of Welsh factory workers visiting a male stripper event.

Click on either image to see the clip.


Secrets of British Animation – BBC iPlayer