Archive of ‘Featured’ category

Cork Short Story Festival 2017

David Means. April Ayers Lawson. Denis Johnson. Purchases from the best Waterstones Bookshop in Cork.

Also wandered into Vibes and Scribes. May have bought more books. Posts to follow.

Room little darker by June Caldwell

At last I get it! I have had so many books to finish, start and look at. I am in the middle of a house renovation and back in after moving out though there is a lot to do still! My books are in piles, boxes etc and everywhere so excuse the lack of book posts.

I have been reading Joy William’s Honoured Guest and purchased June Caldwell’s debut short story collection, Room little darker. I usually will commit to buying a book from a debut author by the first page, first few sentences and this collection had to be bought. I read the first story, Upcycle, in one go last night before bed. I really liked it. Dark, bizarre yet as if a friend were telling me the story.

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Always good to get a truly unique take on Irish life. Book blurbs might say the writing is unique but June’s surely is!

I will review as soon as I have read further.

Room little darker by June Caldwell is published by New Island Press.

Danielle Mac Laughlin’s workshop at Listowel Writer’s Week 2017

I attended Danielle’s workshop on humour in the short story last weekend at the Listowel Writer’s Weekend. This was made possible through funding from the Carlow Arts Council and many thanks.

Danielle McLaughlin, Bairbre Leahy and Marie Gethins talk up the writing group movement

Danielle McLaughlin, Bairbre Leahy and Marie Gethins talk up the writing group movement

Danielle is a super writer and everytime I meet her, she is always very positive and encouraging. She deserves all of her success in writing.

After this weekend, I feel that I really got a deep insight into how a full-time writer thinks, reads and writes. She spoke to us about all of her current reading, excellent writer’s talks she had attended and gave us some super handouts with weblinks, book lists and short stories to read.

A month before the course, we received an email directing us to read 5 stories. Danielle has selected these with the theme of humour in writing in mind. I loved them all for different reasons and was introduced to a short story writer called ZZ Packer. Check out her story, Drinking coffee elsewhere for a zippy, comic but terribly sad at the end short story.

The course was made up of 15 participants, all who were hugely interested in writing and reading(Honestly, I have attended courses where the participants said they had don’t really read fiction) or a course for intermediate where the partcipants have never written a word! We had some brilliant discussions and debates about the 5 stories all faciliatated really well by Danielle. She was never intrusive and encouraged us to chat and rave about my great love, the short story. We all came to the agreement(Phew) that Kevin Barry is a genius of a man and should be banned due his excellence. 😉

We got 2 writing prompts which went really well and lots of ideas and energy for future reading and writing. The days were well structured with reading, discussion, writing and listening to Danielle answer questions all balanced nicely.

I met with a friend for lunch in the lovely Listowel Arms Hotel and had a little shop browse and a couple of walks on Ballybunion beach.

Thanks to the Arts Council again. Now to work!

Honoured Guest by Joy Williams and her endings

I am enjoying Honoured Guest by Joy Williams. The characters are genuinely hilarious and odd. The situations are even odder though Joy writes about surreal events, I absolutely believed that these things could happen. In “Congress” we have a story of an unhappy couple, Jack and Miriam. Jack is not a very nice person. He is smug. Dislike. Miriam is weak, walked all over, refuses to speak up and puts up with a lot. Jack moves his student lover boy in and Miriam is still passive though shows rebellion by striking up a relationship with a lamp made from four deer’s feet.

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Surreal but understandable?

I am re-reading “Congress” especially the last paragraph. Simon, my husband is being forced to listen to the last paragraph of it too! We have puzzled over the last two lines and wonder what she means. I am slowly understanding. Should a short story take this long?

Probably!

 

Off to Listowel with thanks to Carlow County Council Arts funding

I received word today that an application I sent through to Carlow County Council for Arts Service funding this year was successful. I had applied to attend the Listowel Writers Festival in June and taking a place in Danielle Mc Laughlin’s short fiction workshop, which runs for 2 days.

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I greatly admire Danielle, her writing and her helpfulness as a writer to other little writers like me. I have a sneaking feeling that she will be as good of a teacher as she is a writer.

Talent.

 

Autumn Royale in Project Arts sells out and Rozzie is a sad Rozzie

OK, I know Kevin Barry is good but I am genuinely shocked that all 4 shows in Dublin sold out! That sounds silly, I know that I wouldn’t have guessed that they’d all go. His play, Autumn Royale is touring currently and it got a 5-star review in the Independent today. It is fabulous news for the Kevin but not so fabulous for me.

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Please, tour again, Kevin and this time I promise I will get the tickets the SECOND they come out. I’ll queue really early or something and bring coffee and breakfast and be the first in the queue to get those golden tickets!

Aumtun Royal-written by Kevin Barry is COMING! Full excitement overload!

A new play by Kevin Barry (Beatlebone and City of Bohane) is a-coming! Here is the story below…..

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May and Timothy are looking after the father – the father has long since taken to the bed.  Their own lives are curtailed, closed down, and they’re not getting any younger. Should they stay or should they go?

A dark, dark comedy, set on the northside of Cork city, Autumn Royal is a play about life and death, love and hate, hysterical dependency, jealousy, rage, horror, and homicidal notions – or, in other words, it’s a play about a family.

In case you did not know, Kevin Barry is the multi-award winning writer of the novels Beatlebone and City Of Bohane and the story collections Dark Lies The Island and There Are Little Kingdoms. Autumn Royal is his first piece written originally for the stage.

On in the Everyman Theatre, Cork: 

DATE AND TIME | MON 30 JAN – SAT 4 FEB, 8PM | PREVIEWS WED 25, THU 26 & SUN 29 JAN

Project Arts Centre, Dublin

07 February 2017-11 February 2017 7.45pm

The Dock, Carrick On Shannon

Thu 23 February, 8:30pm

I am hoping to get there if the M-boy can be cared for nicely by some kind girl or family member.

Get excited, bound to brilliant and dark….

 

Calling Submissions for Sixteen Magazine Issue 5: Black

Sixteen Magazine are calling Submissions for Issue 5: Black

“Black is not sad. Bright colours are what depresses me. They’re so… empty. Black is poetic. How do you imagine a poet? In a bright yellow jacket? Probably not.”
― Ann Demeulemeester

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We’re looking for poems and short stories with the theme of black. There are no big rules except your piece of work should be the best it can be. It should be as long as it needs to be and it should be ready for publication. Please see our full submission guidelines before you submit. 

To submit your work, please email it in any of the following formats: doc, docx, txt, rtf to submit@sixteen.ie. Don’t forget to make sure the subject line has the word “SIXTEEN” in it or we won’t be able to email you back.

Deadline is: 16th January 2016

Happy 2017, Winter Pages Volume 2 and Donal Ryan kicks off my first bookclub!

Happy New Year!

Gosh, I don’t even care about the whole New Year’s Even thing but I do like the tidiness that comes with a brand new day on the 1st of January and when the supermarkets take all of the nonsense away off their shelves and start preparing for Easter or Halloween or something.

Christmas is an excellent time for getting the reading done. The open fire. The glass of fizzy minerals to sip on. The chocolates. They all add to that reading feeling. This Christmas Day I received 2 books. It is a strange one, surely my gifts should be 100% book related. Don’t all of you know I LOVE reading? My husband knew and my writing group homie knew. Therefore, I received a huge copy of the mustard-coloured Winter Papers Volume 2 annual. It is fab. It is made up of artwork, interviews, fiction and poetry. It is a true fest. Despite the fact that Kevin Barry is one of the editors(with Olivia Smith), there is no new fiction from him but it might be a bit egotistical if he did that, I guess and I think he is not that way.

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The second gift I received was the Mslexia Writing Diary for 2017. Full of prompts, sections to write my personal details in(I love this!), interviews, recommended reading and prompts, it is a real writer’s gift. It is simply gorgeous and will be used and is being used already!

I treated myself to Donal Ryan’s new novel, All we shall know. I have a problem remembering the title always of this book. I keep thinking it is “All that we shall know” or “All that is left behind” or simple “All”  The novel is narrated by a pregnant lady and it is broken up into weeks. I am at 20 weeks already and Donal, as per usual is compelling, full-on with his strong language and depressing all at once. It will catch you by the first paragraph. I am reading this for a book club I set up in work.

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Plenty to keep me busy and out of trouble anyway. I also keep calling the Kevin Barry annual by its incorrect name of Winter Pages. It is Winter Papers!

Hope you had a good one!

http://www.winterpapers.com/

 

 

Christmas books for you to buy: 2016

I have read some brilliant books this year and it is impossible to choose but I must so here we go.

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If you would like to buy a book for someone you love or even for yourself, then consider these…Because, apparently book sales are up this year which is exciting and amazing for booksellers, publishers, writers and readers! Woooo!

Buy the lovely Springs of Affection by Maeve Brennan and published by Stinging Fly. It is a beautiful book with some very cool photos of Maeve on the front and back. But, do not be swayed by mere human beauty for it is the writing that is the best! The collection is made up of some memoir/short stories to begin with and then gets fully into the heads of two different Dublin families. It always amazes me when writers can get right under the skin of what it means to be a mother or father when they are not. Maeve writes so well about the complexities of being alive and being in a marriage made of hatred. Each of the stories build on each other and zip in and out of the past and into the future. I really enjoyed it. Maeve passed away sadly in 1993 and was not well-known at all but is making a deserved comeback. Put her at the top of your shopping list. Stinging Fly will ship if you go to this address  http://www.stingingfly.org/book/springs-affection

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Also, her novella The visitor is a strong read and you will get it on amazon. I bought mine second-hand from Kenny’s Bookshop or kennys.ie. It is the perfect book as it is small and compact enough to bring with you and show off and swoon over. It is a short story/novella(Make up your mind, Rozz) that shows us a little girl who is very afraid of her evil Grandmother who wants her out of her family home. Be scared. Scared.

The Pier falls by Mark Haddon rocks. I loved his story, the gun when it was shortlisted for the Times Short story award and it lost out by basically having the award stolen. Well, the award wasn’t stolen as in a real theft but it was in my head. I read all 5 shortlisted stories and therefore I declare the award was stolen from Mr. Hadden. T

The Pier falls is one of the best modern collections I have read in a long while. Each story is brilliant, different, heartbreaking and entirely suited for those who may not be used to reading the short story thing. Get it. The cover is all stripey and will be a worthy present for anyone who likes coloured stripey books and an excellent reading experience. You will buy it anywhere but I like it if you buy it from an Irish independent bookshop like Kenny’s in Galway at http://www.kennys.ie/the-pier-falls-3.html and Kenny’s will ship it free!

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Other excellent Irish short story collections this year that I have read and can stand over are William Wall’s Hearing Voices, Seeing things published by Doire Press and free P and P from those lovely publishers in Galway.

I really, really liked Jan Carson’s Children’s children published by Liberties Press with a gorgeous, gorgeous cover. Yes, I love my covers and I think every reader does too. It looks all wintery and stuff so you really shouldn’t be hesitating on this one.

 

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If you want something really, really special, go for any of Carver’s short story collections. The book depository and amazon stock Raymond Carver but not sure if you will get before Christmas. Dubray Books who have real-life shops and online stock some of his collections. I would recommend What we talk about when we talk about lovehttp://www.dubraybooks.ie/What-We-Talk-About-When-We-Talk-About-Love_9780099530329 If you haven’t read this, I am jealous and excited for you!

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Happy shopping, hope you get something you love!

 

 

 

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