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Drawing on private correspondence and little known documents, published and unpublished, Pilling explores every aspect of the More Pricks Than Kicks short story collection. From its publishing history to why they were written, Pilling reveals Beckett's conflicted feelings about the 'compromise' of writing short stories and his struggle to find a voice distinct from James Joyce, his friend and authority of the form. By discussing each story as separate entity, in a grouping that deviates from the collection, and by analysing 'Echo's Bones', Pilling makes new comparisons and contrasts, illustrating Beckett's idiosyncratic handling of the form. Making sure to place the stories in the context of the post-war work, this early study of Beckett highlights the years and work central to his development as a writer.