W Somerset Maugham, StoryTeller Extraordinaire

Ten by Maugham by W. Somerset Maugham
W. Somerset Maugham was a natural born storyteller. There is nothing flashy about his technique, just a straightforward telling of what happened. Frequently he put himself in the stories as a friend of the family, an outsider, who has traveled everywhere and is observant and detached.
Unlike many literary bloggers, I enjoy reading story collections. I like the variety, the relatively short time it takes to read the story. Frequently I’ll read two story collections at a time, playing one writer off another. And good luck to any novelist trying to construct an entire novel, if they cannot construct a story.
Probably Maugham’s most famous story is “Rain”, the story of Sadie Thompson, which was made into a famous movie starring Joan Crawford. The stories in this collection vary widely in subject matter. One story is about couple living in Malaysia where the husband casually shoots his wife’s lover, leaving her his hostage in their jungle home. Another story is about an English mother who lures her son away from his wife and back to her home by using his old love of kites. One can never predict what the next Maugham story will be about.
Perhaps I’m showing my age by admiring Maugham as a story writer. Maugham must be way out of fashion by this time. But good story writing is eternal. The Canterbury Tales are a story collection. Is one out of fashion for admiring them?


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by lizzysiddal on September 24, 2009 at 4:53 PM

    Who cares if short stories aren’t in fashion? I’m on the way to a short story addiction. And on the strength of your review, am officially on the hunt for some by Maugham.


    • Posted by Tony S. on September 28, 2009 at 12:33 AM

      Lizzy, I think you will enjoy Maugham’s stories. I’ve read several of Maugham’s novels, especially enjoying “Cakes and Ale”, but have particularly appreciated his stories.


  2. Posted by Theresa Williams on September 28, 2009 at 8:49 AM

    To your journey!


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