Let's cut right to the chase, shall we?


Why should I buy this book?

You already have. So.

Oh. Dammit, should have seen that one coming.

You said you had a question?

Oh yeah. Uh, so, are all these stories, like, from the same schoolyear or whatever? (Not that I care, really.)

Well, that was the original idea. I then started rethinking it, realizing that some of the stories just weren't up to scratch. Although I remember them being fun to work with in classes, for some reason or another that just didn't translate to paper.

So what did you do about that? (God, I don't even know why I'm asking this. First of all, I know the answer already—you probably just added stories from other years—and second, I don't give a damn either way.)

Funny you should ask. I kept the ones that did work on paper and added stories from other years. Pretty smart, huh? So I ended up with a collection of mighty fine stories that you now get to read.

Are they any good?

Yeah. I mean, of course they are. Why would I pick stories that suck?

Because you do that sometimes.

What?! Ah, screw you. I mean, what does that even... Gee, the nerve of some people. Damn ingrates is what you are, all of you lot.

Calm down, will you? I was just yanking your chain. I know the stories are gonna be cool.

Ok. Don't do that again.

Anyway, I was wondering—what level of students are these stories for?

That's a tough one. Some are pretty challenging (Winter Olympics, Spider) and some are written in relatively simple English (Lisa, Regrets). Some will take weeks or months to get through, others you'll read and soak in right off the bat. My advice is to deal with each story at your own pace.

What if I skip some?

Don't. Seriously, don't.

What are you gonna do to me if I do?

I'll rip your throat out and make you choke on it.

You wish. You don't have the guts, man. You're just a big baby.

Can we change the subject, please?

You got it.

So here's a good one. Do the stories contain spoken or formal English? Is there slang that I should avoid? What if I embarrass myself by using the wrong phrase in the wrong situation? Look, I'm freaking out here.

Slow down there, tiger. You're gonna be fine whatever phrase you use in whatever situation. No one's gonna rip your head off for being too formal. That said, some stories actually are more formal (Replacement, MailBoxes) while other use very colloquial English (Girlfriend, all dialogs). As for slang, there's very little of it here so no need to worry about that.

What's the deal with the asterisks (*) next to some vocabulary?

An asterisk next to a word/phrase indicates that this word/phrase isn't worth learning. Note the n't part in isn't.

A lot is underlined in those stories. I mean, a lot.

I'm pretty sure there's a question hidden in there somewhere that really wants out.

There is, as a matter of fact. Are all of those underlined bits important?

Yes. Not necessarily all of them for you in particular, but you really want to check out every single one of them before deciding which are worth your attention and which you feel confident about.

So what's more important, the vocabulary or the underlined bits?

I don't believe you're even asking me this.

Ok. So I guess it's the... the... uh, it's probably the... v-- [angry glare] ... the underlined bits, obviously.

Obviously. The vocab is there just so you understand what the story is about. Once it gets you there, don't go back to it. Focus on the underlined bits instead.

I couldn't help noticing that all of these stories were written by someone that's not you.

That's right. I myself don't have the imagination to write a good story. I just don't have what it takes and it's killing me but what are you gonna do, right? I'm pretty good at improving other people's stories, though.

I see. So what if whoever actually wrote one of these stories sues you?

Yeah, that'd be a bummer.

Is that all you have to say about this?

I think so.

So which story has the best English?

These intros, hands down.

Wow. Talk about patting yourself on the back.

See? That's exactly what I'm talking about.

Huh? I'm confused. Like, I'm way in over my head here.

Your honor, I rest my case.