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My Mother Was An Upright Piano Paperback – April 19, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Tani Hershman's fictions are incredible things which both challenge and explore the wider picture whilst honing in on the minutae of everyday life. Bold, assured and poetic My Mother Was An Upright Piano: Fictions confirms Hershman's standing as an important contemporary voice. Lee Rourke, author of The Canal and Everyday and editor of A Brief History of Fables.

About the Author

Born in London in 1970, Tania Hershman moved to Jerusalem in 1994, and after 15 years in Israel, she moved to Bristol . After making a living for 13 years as a science journalist, writing for publications such as WIRED, New Scientist, the MIT Technology Review and Business 2.0, Tania Hershman gave it all up to write fiction.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Tangent Books (April 19, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906477604
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906477608
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,787,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Tania Hershman is another writer I stumbled onto thanks to twitter. I'd read a few of her flash fiction pieces and short stories published on various websites, and loved her quirky originality, so I was looking forward to reading a full collection of her work.

The thing I love most about Hershman's writing is its fearlessness. She manages to convey emotions through the most unlikely combination of words, in the most unlikely settings. Some of her sentences are absolute perfection.

Many of the stories in this collection would fall under flash fiction, as they are mostly very short. Some of them are more like fragments. But that doesn't mean that they aren't packed with layers of nuanced meaning. A few of her stories almost made me cry (one did bring tears to my eyes but I was on a bus so I had to hold it together). Standout stories for me were Her Dirt; Trams and Pies; Screens; Colours Shift and Fade; and My Mother was an Upright Piano. Hershman does madness extremely well, with a lightness of touch that shows the humanity of the mad person and views the bewildering behaviour of the world to those trapped inside their own heads with their own non-conformist world view. Some of her pieces veer towards horror, not in the blood and guts sense but in the strong sense of unease and discomfort they suggest.

Not every story worked for me but that is also something I can admire about this writer: she is not afraid to experiment, to bring a fresh approach to a thought, a feeling, a moment in time. She shows the world not how it is on the surface but the overlooked and unseen.

If you love short stories, and writing that makes you think and feel, and exposes parts of you that you'd rather keep hidden, you'll love this collection. Just avoid reading it on public transport if you can.
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Format: Kindle Edition
These are beautiful fictions that break down any boundaries between short stories, poetry, philosophy and science. Hugely original, Hershman is fearless in her mastery of language in service of analysing the human heart and the world that surrounds us. Beautiful, sharp, energetic and frequently funny and moving in equal measure, this is a jewel box of tales from which you can read a handful or just one at a time, and reflect at leisure upon its meaning. Each piece is a tiny spark to fire the imagination.
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Format: Paperback
My Mother Was An Upright Piano is a collection of flash fictions, most of them shorter than one thousand words.

The title is apt since many of the stories are about family relationships, often mothers and daughters. The mother-daughter stories are very personal, intimate, honest and touching, such as The Lion and the Meteorite Can Never Touch You and Trams and Pies.

Hershman is an expert in describing family relations and she does it needing no more than a few hundred words (Under the Tree, The Family, My Mother Was An Upright Piano). These are small stories with a big impact.

I also loved the stories about sisters in Ankle Socks and Hair in Bunches and of best friends in Graveside.

Some of the stories in this collection are deliciously surreal, such as Like Owls, Tiny Red Heart and In Triplicate.
Others are satirical and darkly funny. I enjoyed the social satire of the opening story The Google 250 and Underground, the art criticism in Containing Art, the satire of friendship in Retreating, I Retreated, and the gender stings in The Tragedy of Tragic Men.

Relationships is another theme in the collection, such as the quantum romance in If and the fast forward modern-day fling in At Camden Town He Said He Loved Me.

Some stories made me wish we could have known more about the narrator, such as My Flickering Self. Other stories are so intriguing I would have liked to see more of the aftermath of the events, such as Beam Line. But there is no doubt that Hershman is an expert of the very short story.

The themes in the collection are nicely cohesive and the voice and narrative structure well varied. I've had the pleasure of reading many of these stories in their individual publication, but reading them all together for a full impression of the author's warm voice and deft descriptions, was even better.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Sometimes when I read a 1* review which is written under a pseudonym and contains no real reference to what makes the book poor, I do tend to wonder what prompts some people to spend time writing spiteful reviews on the internet?
I'm delighted to say, under my real name, that I have read this book and I found it quite wonderful. Tania Hershman is the Queen of Flash Fiction in the UK in my opinion and this second collection of `fictions' after 'The White Road and other stories' doesn't disappoint. A wonderful book to dip into, the stories are poetic and spark the imagination. The power of flash fiction and short stories is to give the reader, in a very small number of words, what he/she needs to picture the characters and the world they live as well as just a story. 'tiny red heart' and 'at camden town he said he loved me' are great examples of this. As a writer of flash fiction, this book sets the standards to which I aspire.
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Format: Paperback
Each of these stories is a gem. Hershman is one of the most interesting voices in the genre of brief, unexpected fiction. I've been fortunate to hear the author read these stories several times, online and even once in person. These are exciting stories in terms of narrative voice, daring creativity, innovative style. There's no WOW that's WOW enough here. Maybe WOWSA?
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