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S in Weimar Berlin a faceless soldier wanders through a war torn city looking for his lost love an artist high on modernism gets caught up in a political assassination in Fascist Italy Personally they dream of capturing that unfulfilled promise that missed perfect kiss that unresolved moment that thing that should have live. The Syllabus of Errors is a collection of very intelligently written short stories The details in the stories were so intricate and thought provoking that I often found myself revisiting past pages just to re digest interesting parts of the storyThis collection dramatically flings an optimist like myself straight back down to earth and lives up to the title of a Syllabus of Errors Without ruining any parts of the stories I found it to be a series of melancholy tales in which I found myself captivated by the complex characters and intricate details of the story I found myself pondering the characters long after I had put the book down and yearning for an extra chapter just so I can find out a little bit Two stories to look out for in particular are Marmara which actually made me shout out loud in despair and the Post leading Man which has an interesting twist I am conscious of spoiling the stories so I am deliberately being vague but this is a book that demands your full attention Make the time to sit and immerse yourself in this collection to get the full benefit of the beauty of these tales The story plots aren t overly dramatic and draw you in ever so subtly that you don t even know you have been hooked until you reach the endOverall a very good collection of addictive cleverly written stories which I was unable to put down the plots are interesting and the characters are likable and for this very reason Ashley Stokes and his Syllabus of Errors owe me one night of lost sleep

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The Syllabus of Errors

Id when universally accepted notions The Syllabus Kindle of democracy and liberal capitalism are being uestioned as nowThe restless and rootless characters dream of idealized cities or moments in the personal or historical past which they feel could offer their escape Historically Sally Bowles and Fritz Lang's M join hand. I m a greedy reader If I m enjoying a novel short story or memoir I ve a tendency to devour but there are works that demand to be savoured to be read slowly carefully given serious thought They re so rich that gobbling is rendered nigh on impossible Ashley Stokes s short story seuence The Syllabus of Errors is one such bookDavid Rose s splendid introduction prepares the reader for an erudite and considered collection and invites readers to draw comparisons with the work of Joseph Roth and Roberto Bolano The settings of the stories range from pre fascist Italy Weimar Berlin and modern day London and many feature characters with a keen interest in Hitler studies and the history of the interwar years But that s not the end of itThemes of persecution real and imagined obsession and as Stokes so elouently puts it Getting in a State thread through the narratives The weight of history is ever present the threat of violence lurks in the shadows In I Remember Nothing a gifted impressionable school boy endures a heroic act of post colonial resistance from another pupil and finds intellectual stimulation with a war criminal hiding out in suburban Surrey in The First Suggestion of Night the bullying of a politician by Mussolini supporters in pre fascist Rome is rather sinister and organised Men obsess over women and careers on the skids in Post Leading Man Ultima Thule and Abyssinia and missed chances in Island Gardens and Storming the Bastille Characters from one story appear as extras in another and one even claims authorship of an earlier story Inventive brilliantI ll talk a little about Abyssinia not only because it s my favourite story in the collection though it s a close call with I Remember Nothing and The First Suggestion of Night but also because for me it encapsulates all that is to be admired in the twelve tales well structured compelling narratives insightful pin point accurate characterisation compassion and oodles of wit As in the best tragedies laugh out loud moments are juxtaposed with the shocking and moving the poignancy all the powerful for the humour that precedes it In Abyssinia we follow Mellis an art historian and alcoholic facing dismissal from his post as he leaves AE and wanders through the city recalling a missed opportunity with a woman he met at an exhibition His insectoid fascist Human Resources Manager is now this woman s beau Mellis s growing rancour at a world where mediocrity and stupidity are celebrated slides into realisation he is haunted by the ghost of what he once was and what he must become again a visionary dreamer A ghost if you re lucky enough to have one returns you to the glimpse of a frontier you saw ahead long ago a Great Wall The portrayal of a man on the edge is intricately and compassionately depicted All the characters in The Syllabus of Errors are exiles in some way from their hopes dreams younger happier selvesAnd just as the stories examine the tensions and concerns of our times drawing parallels with those of history characters look inwards at their personal histories asking that perennial uestion what if Perhaps the best way to sum up the seuence is to draw on Stokes s own words In I Remember Nothing history teacher Mr Priskin observes There is no truth People in the past found their times as confusing as we do our own There are only uestions and versions Just make sure you always choose the human version OK These stories are beautifully human versions of truth which raise some important uestions Thought provoking and profound Often a platitude but not so with these stories You ll read them again and again Divine

Ashley Stokes í 6 Free read

The Syllabus of Errors is a story seuence a mixture of contemporary and historical episodes A cast of loners and romantics explore how our anxious present is mirrored in the uncertainties of the inter war period with its crashes and crises Ultimately it conveys a coded warning from history about what can come to fill the vo. fascinating and impressive collection by a bloke I met once at a party many years ago and who now edits the very good Unthology series As the introduction says an introduction To a debut collection these ring with mitteleuropean references they are set in Rome Paris Berlin as well as present day UK they reference the Weimar Republic German art George Grosz etc they happen now in the near future or in the 30s when soldiers are uelling riots and dead bodies litter the streets Fascism is discussed studied one protagonist studying Hitler Studies has to hide his books in an organichippy restaurant or imminent In a book full of mordant humour the writeror maybe narrators saves his most withering sarcasm for the assorted lefties he meets and their political correctness or general appearance He had a bushy white beard and hair like a dandelion clock The mother s skirt reminded Ludo of a picnic blanket There s a feeling that pc attitudes tend to distort history and thus leave us unprepared for the future eg in the excellent I Remember Nothing where a boy hears an alternative history of the rise of Hitler by a WW2 refugee and possible Nazi he meets to the one taught by his teacher Priskin who followed rigidly the school textbook interpretation of Hitler as the pawn of big business and the military There s a similar disdain for the consumerist and often violent young evident in the brilliant names the various protagonists use for those around them Shoutybollocks Buzz uarterpounder SpecialneedsbiNot that the heroes of these books are much effective the stories often revolve around the single bloke just been rejected by or trying to connect with his love object a woman that usually turns out to be not worth it They are drunks or failures in various ways trumped by the fatuous Besides fascism and inanity there s also much emphasis on screenfilm one story is a screenplay where the majority of the story is in Nabokovian footnotes about the leading lady s betrayal another centres on a buffed up for a part leading man s existential angst as he deserts his girlfriend and gets beaten by a street gang Violence or rage is everywhere actual implied Troops or mobs The stories are also funny in their ranting and sharp enough to cut The Syllabus of Errors may well be Roth Joseph meets Bolano as the introduction claims I haven t read either although have always intended to it s certainly a fine set of stories which twists and thumps at you warning with its rage and elouence of a drift to fascism or at least to stupidity

10 thoughts on “The Syllabus of Errors

  1. says:

    fascinating and impressive collection by a bloke I met once at a party many years ago and who now edits the very good Unthology series As the introduction says an introduction To a debut collection these ring with 'mitteleuropean' references they are set in Rome Paris Berlin as well as present day UK they reference the W

  2. says:

    I've had this collection a while I finished it sometime ago and yet despite that distance between reading and reviewing I've found that the characters and stories continue to live with meAshley Stokes has managed to compres

  3. says:

    I am so glad I read this book of stories Stunningly stylish writing Memorable characters and settings Brilliant

  4. says:

    I have seen people comment on how this seuence of stories needed to be savoured and considered and that’s definitely true There are layers within each of these stories and connections that create a fascinating latticework of ideas theme time and character My favourite moments in the collection were those tha

  5. says:

    From the first few pages you know you're being well guided through these connected worlds Some of these are juicey peaches Others are suashed bananas The title story and I remember nothing are perfectly formed and have stayed with me A short film about a short film is a film script which is overcome by its copious footnotes The Prettiest Girl in Berlin is a horrifying ramble through a war zone Some of this is confusing Some if it

  6. says:

    I’m a greedy reader If I’m enjoying a novel short story or memoir I’ve a tendency to devour but there are works tha

  7. says:

    The Syllabus of Errors is a collection of very intelligently written short stories The details in the stories were so intricate and th

  8. says:

    According to the blurb The Syllabus of Errors features ‘a cast of loners and romantics trapped in the upheavals

  9. says:

    Andre van Loon A common narrative in the stories is that of the young man waiting to meet the girl he is interested in only for her not to turn up or to reject him when they do meet The wait makes up the narrative the way in which the young man moves through a world in which the young woman will not want him The

  10. says:

    We selected this title for our dozen strong book club under an initiative to cover short stories Only two of us stayed the course and those of us who did unceremoniously concluded that it carries numerous plot holes and is really uite well dul

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