- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: HarperCollins (4 May 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0002256029
- ISBN-13: 978-0002256025
- Package Dimensions: 21.6 x 14 x 4.2 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 621 g
- Customer Reviews:
What You Make It: Selected Short Stories
‘Astonishingly distinctive short stories’
‘A story telling skill that can only be described as pure genius’
‘Very funny and decidedly surreal’
‘No one writes better than Smith about love: how it’s won, how it’s lost. No one writes better about being wasted – by drugs, by drink, by time. Nigh-on unique’
From the Back Cover
STRANGE THINGS COME IN SMALL PACKAGES
Welcome to a late-night flip across channels you’ve never seen before. Lovers, killers, ordinary people – in worlds where the ordinary has been left far behind. A pavement artist with remarkable powers, and a medium whose ability could bring about the end of the world. A father whose skills with wrapping paper may hold the key to a triumph over death … and a diet plan you’d be well advised not to follow.
In 'What You Make It', the extraordinary short stories of Michael Marshall Smith are collected together for the first time, invluding a number of previously unpublished works. Some will show you things you think you already know, parts of life that seem all too familiar – and yet which warp under close scrutiny. Others will tell you things you won’t want to believe, but you’ll have to. This book contains seventeen worlds, seventeen lives, seventeen 'doors', left slightly ajar.
You’re invited as you are. But you’ll have changed by the time you come out.
PRAISE FOR MICHAEL MARSHALL SMITH
“A storytelling skill which can only be described as pure genius”
“As genre-defining as William Gibson and as relentlessly readable as Michael Crichton”
“Buy Michael Marshall Smith”
“Comic, cruel, twisted and surreal”
“Fiercely funny, and hugely entertaining”
THE LITERARY REVIEW
“No one writes better than Smith about love … nigh-on unique”
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Review this product
Top international reviews
1. More Tomorrow: 10/10
The story here was good, the central character being a computer nerd installing a system for a business, and I think could have been expanded to a full length book. Without giving anything away, the ending made me feel somewhat disturbed, but also wanting there to be more rather than ending where it does.
2. Everything Goes: 5/10
Okay, this one is very short, and to be honest I had to go back and read the ending again before (I think) I understand what it was about. The first read made me feel nothing really, but when I reread it, I thought okay that's cleverly written. I'm still not totally sure what I think about it, and might need to read it a third time to reach a conclusion.
3. Hell Hath Enlarged Herself: 10/10
The idea in this story is brilliant, and like the first one I would have liked it to have been a novel rather than a short story. At the start, it reminded me a lot of Prey by Michael Crichton, but I preferred the direction this one took, as a more supernatural one rather than scientific.
4. A Place To Stay: 8/10
I found this story to be very clever, but very confusing. I don't really understand why or how it all happened. Maybe if I reread it, I'll work it out - but even though I was left with questions, I enjoyed reading it. I'll admit that when I first got to a bit of strangeness, I had to go back and read the last page again, as I thought I'd missed something. I would have preferred this one to have had a better ending.
5. Later: 8/10
A sad tale of love with a kick. I felt the love between the two main characters here, and thought it well written. The first twist came as a shock. I wasn't expecting it, and it hit me like a slap in the face. Then the mood changed and I found I could still really relate to the characters. The final twist happened a bit slower, but didn't really make much sense. I didn't care. It gave the story a happy ending, even if it was slightly weird.
6. The Man Who Drew Cats: 7/10
Another well written story, but predictable. I came away feeling that I'd read something similar before, possibly something by Stephen King or Richard Laymon. I don't think I had, but it just had that feel about it. I liked the story, but I'd put it in as a slightly above average one.
7. The Fracture: 10/10
A simple story of a man coping (or not) with OCD. My favourite so far. The ending was - as with the other stories - weird, but it was a good ending.
8. Save As: 6/10
I'm not sure I liked this one. The idea was good, it seemed a bit like it was trying to be Butterfly Effect (New Line Cinema) by James Swallow, but I don't think it works as a short story, as there is not enough to explain why certain things happened how they did.
9. More Bitter Than Death: 8/10
This one is good, but quite freaky. It has a very shocking twist at the end, but was well written and I enjoyed reading it.
10. Diet hell: 5/10
I wasn't so keen on this one. The idea was good, but I don't think it was explored enough - it seemed as though it had been rushed.
11. The Owner: 6/10
Average. It read quite well, but I didn't understand the point.
12. Foreign Bodies: 8/10
I enjoyed reading this one, although I think there should have been more of a revenge aspect to it.
13. Sorted: 9/10
This one made me laugh, until the end. It's very short and offers a great insight into the mind of professional footballers.
14. The Dark Land: 7/10
I wasn't too fussed with this one, it was okay to read, but I don't think it even tried to explain any of why it was going where it did. Very weird.
15. When God Lived in Kentish Town: 7/10
Another so-so story. Doesn't explain why for anything, but it did leave me wanting Chinese food.
16. Always: 8/10
A good story about losing a loved one. Surprisingly little in the way of shocks, considering the other stories. I liked it though.
17. What You Make It: 8/10
A bizarre story centred around some kind of crazy Disneyland. I think someone was taking drugs while this one was being written. It was good though.
18. The Truth Game: 5/10
A poem, short and odd.
MMS does this in an amazing way.
Don't get me wrong, this is not a nice read, in fact it is anything but, however I could not put this book down, and this is the third time I have read it.
I do admit to needing several years to recover from each read though as nin a few stories the characters are often truly vile with no room for empathy from the reader at the end, but with one exception, you are a way through the story before you know this, and that is part of the beauty of this book.
The second paragraph of the blurb on the back is a very important read and gives you a tiny glimpse of what you are getting into, and describes this book to a tee.
This book is not for the faint of heart, for when Smith states that short stories offer us a glimpse into another world, in reality the book offers us a glimpse into madness, sometimes from the perspective of the patient himself. Smith tends to personify his characters mental disorders, making their personalities appear as other characters conjured up by the imagination of the subject. The majority of these short stories tend to be so horrifying in nature (not in graphical description, but more so in the case that the reader can relate to and understand the sickness that wells up inside some of the characters) that at certain points I was forced to look away before continuining, or flip back a few pages after I've read it to check that I did read it correctly.
A brilliant work of fiction and imagination, which, even though rooted very much in contemporary times and the familiar London setting, still includes certain supernatural elements which leaves the reader slightly disturbed.