My short story collection, Kontakte and Other Stories, was first published by Roman Books in July 2013. A second edition, with a new preface, was published by Roman Books in September 2014.
You can buy a copy of the book here.
Kontakte and Other Stories was shortlisted for the Saboteur Award for Best Short Story Collection 2014, longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize 2014, and longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award 2014.
These are stories about music – about composing it, listening to it, living it. These are stories about people whose lives are haunted and shaped by music. These are stories about music and sex, music and joy, music and memory, music and illness, music and power – and particularly the ways in which music’s tremendous power can be exploited and abused. Above all, these are stories which are themselves musical – which seek in many and various ways to reconnect the language of storytelling with that of song, opera, symphony, of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi, Giacomo Puccini, Dmitri Shostakovich, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Edith Piaf.
Some reviews of Kontakte and Other Stories:
“Sometimes poignant, sometimes funny, always clever and hugely entertaining, Kontakte explores the relationship between the how and the why of music, its harmony and its dissonances, as counterpoint to life, death, love, sex and even Egyptology. I enjoyed it hugely” (Vanessa Gebbie).
“How closely akin are music and literature? How entwined are their methods and preoccupations, how entangled their different forms of beauty? Can one shed light on the other? Jonathan Taylor’s collection of short stories represents a sustained and insightful engagement with these questions …. Taylor’s staves form a solemn litany … [with] striking images and turns of phrase …. Like a Lisztian paraphrase, Taylor’s writing sits for the most part at an angle to the world …. Music, from this view, may well be beautiful, enthralling, even redemptive; but it is far from safe, far from unthreatening, far from ‘relaxing.’ Music, Taylor reminds us, is often close to madness; and why not literature, too?” (Conor Farrington, in The Times Literary Supplement).
“Kontakte and Other Stories is infused with musicality and manages, much like a good tune, to linger in the head long after it is over … proceeds with confidence and an elegant style … a pleasure to read …. He is able to skip from the comic to the intensely moving, and to juggle the two within the same piece …. The collection sound[s] a true and resounding note” (Ralph Jones, Sabotage Reviews).
“Taylor’s style is confident and elegant, with touches of humour throughout …. Music lovers will love this collection along with short story fans. This is a short story collection which will not let you go even when you have finished” (Jessica Patient, Writer’s Little Helper).
“This collection of thirteen stories navigates with fluidity such various epochs as Ancient Egypt and World War Two Germany, links the pressures that trouble alike the mentally ill and the politically oppressed, and thus unites what we at first take to be a fragmentary mosaic of different souls under the pervasive rhythm of music” (Jack Butler, Stand Magazine).
“Taylor explores the links between music and mental illness … haunting” (The Lancet).
“If you’re interested in short stories about … music, Kontakte and Other Stories is outstanding …. [A] brilliant collection – fun, moving, clever, playful … I find myself going back to it again and again” (Emily Devane).
You can read one of the stories from the collection, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, Tonight’s Concert Will Commence in Fifteen Minutes,’ first published by Connotation Press: An Online Artifact is available here.
You can read another of the stories from the collection, ‘A Rondo in Letters,’ published in Litro Magazine here.
You can read my article about “Musical Fictions,” on Thresholds International Short Story Forum here.