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by Amanda Michalopoulou
Translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich
Reviewed by Rachel Hayes

Over the last few years I've increasingly come to appreciate the short story, to such an extent that I think it's fair to say that it's become my literary form of choice. A good short story leaves me feeling satisfied, a good short story collection and I'm in literary heaven—and these are very, very good. Something else I'm increasingly appreciative of is being made to work a little for my enjoyment, which is exactly what Michalopoulou does in I'd Like; I defy any reader not to react to the challenge thrown down by the author to try to puzzle out what's going on in these stories.

What most struck me about this collection is the fun Michalopoulou must have had creating it. The thirteen stories are interlinked—or are they? Objects recur (a red beret, a porcelain cat), incidents are repeated in different contexts (the porcelain cat is repeatedly smashed), the same characters reappear in different settings and seen from different angles… and the links between the stories remain tantalisingly out of reach. Just as I thought I had it, a new story would throw it all out of focus again. Michalopoulou both choreographs the swirling dance in which the characters and objects revolve around each other, and operates the kaleidoscope through which the reader views it.

One of the most distinctive features of Michalopoulou's writing is her use of metafictive devices, making her work reminiscent of the nouveau roman of the 1950's—but here again her sense of humour is evident; she enjoys what she's doing so much that the reader is carried away by her enthusiasm. I found myself laughing in admiration as she stood by and winked at me, the reader. In one story, a writer struggles to write a short story, and the next story begins with lines written by the writer in the first, which are then developed into a full story. Elsewhere lines are repeated from one story to another, but head off in different, sometimes surprising, directions.

Whilst the links between the stories remain just beyond the reader's grasp, a note from the author at the end of the book clarifies her intent: these are stories which are meant to read like "versions of an unwritten novel". I liked this original approach, I liked the stories, and I'd like to read more.