Short story writing, in my opinion is an art that requires a little more gift than it does to write a novel. Although, there are some stalwarts in the short story writing field, Jeffrey Archer is not far behind.
A couple of years ago, I happened to buy a collection of short stories by Archer. I gave the book to a friend who wanted it. I do not remember the stories as such, but I do remember being very impressed by Archer’s writing. Years passed and all I remembered was his writing style when I picked up A Quiver Full of Arrows for some light reading. Light, because one can read just one story and keep the book aside. I must say that overall it was an enjoyable read.
A Quiver Full of Arrows has a dozen short stories, each very different from the rest. While The Chinese Statue is a story of a legacy handed down a few generations, The Hungarian Professor is one that leaves you surprised and smiling at the end. The Coup is a story of two warring business tycoons caught in the same place for many days. How the men deal with their hatred for each other is something to look forward to in The Coup. Archer has tapped quite a few subjects in the stories; The First Miracle is a story about a miracle—one that people believe anyway. However, the narration is such that you really don’t know what is coming at you. Each story leaves you entertained and makes you want more. While reading each one of them, I wasn’t once disappointed by predictable endings or sloppy plots. The character sketching, even in just a few pages, is remarkable. Most stories have surprising and sometimes even ludicrous endings. For example, Broken Routine starts off somber and makes you laugh quite a bit. There is also teaching and learning in Henry’s Hiccup. And then, there is Old Love—the classic love story that makes you feel warm inside.
A Quiver Full of Arrows is not a book to be passed by. It is one to be picked up and treated on. Like an assortment of muffins on a platter, this collection has a surprise hidden in every muffin and what adds grandeur to goodness is that the baking is very good. 😉 First published in 1980, these stories will go down a long way in time because somehow, I think one cannot put a date on them. My favourite story in this book would have to be The Chinese Statue. I like the story not because it’s the best in terms of plot or any other such reason, but because it resonates with something close to my heart. What? I can’t reveal just yet because it might spoil it for you, if you haven’t read it. I’m sure one can find a story they like best in the book because the premise for each nugget is different and thoroughly like-able.
All in all, I highly recommend this book to everyone; simply everyone, because it’s easy reading and delightful at the same time. Even someone who is not an avid reader is sure to like at least one story in this collection.
Go ahead, have some muffins!
- Ten Short Stories You Should Read Before You Die (thewallahofwhimsy.wordpress.com)
- Cat O’ Nine Tales (gcbooks.wordpress.com)