27 October 2008

Forgotten Books: Collected Short Stories, W. Somerset Maugham

Another contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books theme.

It may come as a surprise to some to find me including Somerset Maugham in my crime fiction blog, but my vague memories of the collected short stories shown to the right is of twist-in-the-tail stories, crimes perpetrated and gone unsolved, and even without detection.

These days people would talk about cross-genre writers, as if a "literary writer" can't at the same time write "real" crime fiction.
In fact ASHENDEN, a collection of short stories about a gentlemanly, sophisticated, aloof spy, based on his own experiences, is listed by the Mystery Writers of America (1995) at number 64 in their top 100 Mysteries of All Time. The volume is thought to have influenced the Ian Fleming James Bond series.

If you'd like to try a Maugham story for yourself, you can read Rain online. That one will give you an example of what I mean by the twist-in-the-tail stories.

There are some Maugham works available free for download through Project Gutenberg.
Some more
And then Bookyards ( a blog) is a wonderful source of information and more links.


Ray said...

I have this collection on a shelf by my bed. I like to read a short story before I nod off. Best Maugham novel - 'Of Human Bondage'

Kerrie said...

Thanks for thr comment Ray. I've sort of grown away from short stories over the years, but when I do dabble in a collection I realise what I've been missing. I've got quite a few now, waiting in the wings.
I read the Somerset Maugham ones at a stage when I was buying, month by month, an entire collection of his books, which still sit proudly on my shelves in their blue and gold bindings. But as you can see from the picture, I bought a Penguin boxed set of the short stories. I still remember what a delight they were, and waiting to see what the twist in the tail would be.

Sandra said...

I read a lot of Maugham when I was young. My favourite was always Rain and I loved Mr Know All. I recently read his novel The Painted Veil and enjoyed it very much too. It's been many years since I read him. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

How did Maugham come upon the title "Moon and Sixpence"?
New York

Reading Heating Engineers said...

I remember reading a lot of Maugham when I was younger, the books were passed down to me by my mother and I now feel like getting the books out again. Thank you for including links to Maugham’s work, I look forward to re-reading the books again.


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