Reviews

Many People Die Like You, by Lina Wolff

amydunneisdead's review

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dark funny mysterious reflective sad medium-paced

3.5

atomiccwitchbooks's review

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medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? N/A
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

2.5

The writing style reminded me of Carmem Maria Machado’s, but I didn’t like it as much. I don’t know, I just feel like there’s something missing, can’t quite put my finger on it. Felt like a first draft. 
Also, why is the author so obsessed with (at the lack of a “better word) fecal matter? Like ma’am it’s ok to not reference bodily fluids/excrement in every single story 😭😭😭

billierwalker's review

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4.0

Wolff grounds these stories in the mundane lives of ordinary people, but takes them on weird dalliances through the amoral and corrupt. These excursions often lead us away from the heteronormative societal structures and into the complexities of the mind.

lethalballet's review against another edition

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dark mysterious fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

keaross's review against another edition

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slow-paced

3.0

callum_mclaughlin's review

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2.0

In principal, this collection of short stories held lots of promise, as I love the idea of wicked, wry twists on every day domestic life. But if there was a running theme throughout the stories, it was an interesting setup that just never seemed to go anywhere. I don’t mind a lack of narrative conclusion in a piece of short fiction if there is some obvious thematic or emotional resonance in its place, but sadly I just failed to connect with Wolff’s style in any meaningful way. As each story fizzled out rather limply, I was consistently left wondering what the author even intended to say.

If there was one standout that made the collection worthwhile, for me it would have to be Misery Porn. We follow a man who begins a relationship with his neighbour, who livestreams footage of herself crying as entertainment. He is soon drawn into his girlfriend’s work, but as things escalate, it becomes clear that she thrives on heartache in ways that make him deeply uncomfortable and which could endanger them both. Again, I think it would have benefitted from a stronger ending, but it offered an interesting reversal of the abuser/victim dynamic, commenting on toxic relationships and society’s obsession with suffering.

Other near highlights were a story about a man who discovers his wife has been cheating on him when her lover turns up on their doorstep asking for a place to stay, and a story about an elderly woman who embarks on a fling with her much younger piano teacher, much to the shock of their community. It was setups like these that proved Wolff has great ideas when it comes to plot and character dynamics; I just couldn’t gel with the execution in the vast majority of cases, unfortunately.

On a more positive note, however, some of the stories were written while the author lived in Spain, and I think she is able to invoke both Swedish and Spanish settings with the same ease. For those who love subtly discomfiting, slice-of-life stories that explore an idea more than a narrative or an emotion, this may work considerably better for you than it did for me.

Thank you to the publisher for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

rubygt's review against another edition

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dark mysterious fast-paced
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

abbie_'s review against another edition

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dark reflective fast-paced
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

2.5

(Gifted by the publisher) I’m really torn on how to rate this short story collection overall. I think one of the reasons I struggled is that there’s no overarching theme to the collection. Obviously not every short story collection I read and enjoy has a theme, but like Atwood’s are usually dark and cunning, Florida by Lauren Groff is tied together by, of course, the Florida setting, Dark Satellites which I read last month was dedicated to exploring outcasts of German society... I feel like I need something to grasp on to.
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But in a way this does allow Wolff to show off her versatility as an author. There are funny stories, shocking stories, dark stories, and honestly some stories I just plain didn’t get or didn’t like. She plays on unassuming, day-to-day scenarios, often twisting them into surprising outcomes.
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My top two favourites were actually the first and last stories, one where a scene between a housewife and the detective she’s hired to trail her husband she suspects of cheating on her ends in a truly ‘OH SHIT’ moment, and the other featuring a desperate man who’s forced into selling all of his organs. Wolff is Swedish but has lived in Spain, and the stories are often an interesting amalgam of Spanish and Swedish culture.
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Saskia Vogel’s translation from Swedish is pretty much flawless as far as I can tell; there’s no clunkiness and every story reads smoothly. When I’m trying out an author for the first time, I wouldn’t judge their whole body of work from a short story collection. I think fans of Lina Wolff will enjoy this new collection from her, while I’ll be giving one of her novels a go to see if I can click better with those, as I did really enjoy her writing style.
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