Wednesday 1 September 2021

Book Review: I Would Prefer Not To - Essential Stories by Herman Melville (Short Stories/Classics)

Title: I Would Prefer Not To
Author: Herman Melville
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publication Date: 8 September 2021
Pages: 256
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Short Stories/Classics
Source: ARC via NetGalley

 A new selection of Melville's darkest and most enthralling stories in a beautiful Pushkin Collection edition

Includes "Bartleby, the Scrivener", "Benito Cereno" and "The Lightning-Rod Man"

A lawyer hires a new copyist, only to be met with stubborn, confounding resistance. A nameless guide discovers hidden worlds of luxury and bleak exploitation. After boarding a beleaguered Spanish slave ship, an American trader's cheerful outlook is repeatedly shadowed by paralyzing unease.

In these stories of the surreal mundanity of office life and obscure tensions at sea, Melville's darkly modern sensibility plunges us into a world of irony and mystery, where nothing is as it first appears.


Until yesterday, I confess the only work of Melville's I had read was Moby Dick, and it is not a book I've ever been especially fond of. So, when I saw I Would Prefer Not To listed on NetGalley, I immediately requested a review copy, as I was keen to give Melville another try and see what some of his other writing was like. Overall, I would say that I prefer these shorter works of his to Moby Dick. "The Lightening-Rod Man" and "John Marr" I found so-so. However, "Benito Cereno" held my interest, as did "Bartleby, the Scrivener". The latter was my favourite piece in the collection, as Melville painted such a marvellous portrait of the enigmatic Bartleby that, as a reader, I could share in the narrator's confusion and consternation over his strange new employee. I would recommend this book to short story fans, readers of 19th-century fiction, and those who, like me, are intrigued to learn what kind of fiction Melville wrote other than Moby Dick.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

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