“(Slight Return)” is a collection of short stories and flash fiction that are inspired by music. Some of the story titles are song titles, other stories mention famous songs or musicians. Music and reading are two of my favourite things, so it was great to be able to find a book that combines the two.
“(Slight Return)” includes tales about fictional musicians and bands, and the highs and lows of the music business; there are stories about people whose lives revolve around music; other stories use songs or music to illustrate how music can influence and even change the course of people’s lives. The author has included an introduction at the beginning explaining how the collection came about, and he has also made a Spotify playlist to accompany the book, which includes most—if not all—of the songs mentioned in the collection.
After I finished reading the first story, “Werner Herzog Gets Shot”, I just knew this book would be something special. That story has a really thought-provoking ending. The whole book is so openly and honestly written and touches upon so many human experiences and emotions. There are some quite dark stories in the collection and there are many stories that are full of nostalgia. Some are very short pieces and some longer. The longest one, I think, is the last story, which is a wonderfully imaginative story set in the not-too-distant future; it is part prose and partly written in the form of a film script.
I can honestly say that I enjoyed every single one of these stories and I was sad to reach the end of the book. It’s a collection of twenty stories that have the power to transport you to other places so that you are able to get into the characters’ minds and see things from their perspective. The stories tell of ordinary people, ordinary lives, dreams, regrets, loss, and hope.
Neil Schiller is such a talented writer that he is able to play around with words and story structures to create some experimental and cutting edge fiction: some examples of this are one of the stories includes alternative endings within the same story, and another story is written in a way that can only really be fully appreciated by reading the following story (amusingly titled ‘dub remix’).
Neil Schiller is a writer to watch and a writer to study. His writing is so powerful and yet seems so effortless. That’s the mark of a writer who has spent years perfecting his craft. These are stories that will entertain and make you think. It’s rare to come across a writer who has such skill and I’m so happy to have discovered his work. I’d also recommend his debut collection of short stories, Oblivious.