Event: Launch of “Some sort of Beauty” by Jamie O’ Connell

So, I was heading into my favourite, Irish bookshop “Hodges and Figges” last week and saw a sign outside. It told me sternly to head upstairs at 6:30 for a glass of two of wine. It also told me that Jamie O’ Connell would be reading from his first short story collection “Some sort of beauty.” Who was I to argue?

A quick text to my friend, Marion and I had forced her to come along too. There was a good crowd of all sorts of humans. James Ryan who lectures in Creative Writing in U.C.D. introduced Jamie. James said millions of lovely things and Jamie listened, looking slightly embarrassed. This was a good start for me. I hate over confidence.

James Rya, U.C.D introduces Jamie O Connell

“Some sort of beauty” is Jamie’s first short story collection and the title is inspired by Lady Gaga. Scratch that. The title is inspired by a writer called Rilke. He said that (amongst many other cool quotes about writing, life and reading) that we should…

“Find out the reason that commands you to write…Describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty”


Jamie read the story of the title of the book “Some kind of beauty” and did a rather good job of putting on a Liverpudlian accent. The story he read speaks of his own background, Jamie was raised a Jehovah Witness and the story “Some Kind of Beauty” talks about a Jehovah Witness man who chooses his religion over his daughter. It starts off slowly but the ending demonstrates how little the main character has moved, a sort of epiphany for us more so than him.

I purchased the book, of course and finished the first 5 stories in one setting. Themes of internet, sexuality and religion make this collection extremely modern and thought provoking. The first 3 stories “Without Art” “Silencio” and “Demain” got me interested. I wondered where the blur between the voice of the author and the narrator started/finished but realised that was the intention of the book, to begin with.

Clever intertwining of the book’s title and the background to the author/narrator(who knows?) achieved the function that I am sure Rilke wanted. Urging others to look to yourself and your own ordinary life for the beauty and creativity that will surely be there.

The book’s cover makes you think…

That’s good fiction.

I was glad when the stories changed voice totally as my world is utterly removed from the student life of the first few stories. Although it sounded like fun!

I was impressed with the way O’ Connell was able to gently switch from a gay man’s voice to a little girl to a ranting woman quite easily. It’s great to see young authors, with great dress sense and hair, writing daring stuff like this.

You can read about Jamie at his blog www.jamieconnellwriter.com or follow him on twitter @jamieconnell.

(Some Sort of Beauty is available to purchase onwww.bradshawbooks.com, www.waterstones.co.uk andwww.amazon.co.uk. It is also available in Irish bookstores.)

Essentials of Writing Fiction workshop with Claire Keegan & Viv McDade

This workshop will run in The Millrace Hotel, Bunclody
On July 14 & 15, 2012.

It will incorporate lectures and discussions, audio clips and movie scenes, group and individual writing exercises. Participants will read sample texts which illustrate specific characteristics of well and poorly written fiction. Short examples, handouts and reading recommendations will be provided.

Participants will be asked to write an opening page before they come to the workshop. This page will not be reviewed: its purpose is to give you an understanding of some of the difficulties in getting started and to provide a piece of ‘raw material’ to which you can apply (both during and after the workshop) some of what you have learned.

The workshop will begin at 10h00 and conclude at approximately 16h00 on both days. A booking can be made by sending an e-mail (with Essentials of Fiction Workshop in the subject field) and your telephone number to ckworkshops@yahoo.co.uk The €250.00 workshop fee covers tuition & tea/coffee only.

Your tutors:

Claire Keegan grew up in Wicklow and studied English and Politics at Loyola University, New Orleans. Her debut collection of stories, Antarctica, was a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year and won The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. The second collection, Walk the Blue Fields, was published to huge critical acclaim and was chosen by Richard Ford as his book of the year in 2007. Foster won the Davy Byrnes Award, was published in The New Yorker and shortlisted for the Kerry Fiction Prize for Irish Fiction, 2011. Claire has also earned an outstanding reputation as a teacher of creative writing. She lives in rural Ireland.

Viv McDade was born in Ireland, grew up in Zimbabwe and lived in South Africa and The Netherlands before returning to Ireland. An English and Psychology Honours graduate, she was Head of English Department at Hillside Teacher Training College in Zimbabwe, before moving into management and consultant roles in South African and European organisations. After her return to Ireland she completed an M.Phil in Creative Writing at Trinity College. Her stories have been read on radio and published in literary journals and anthologies, including the 2011 Faber Book of New Irish Short Stories, edited by Joseph O’Connor. In April 2012 she received the Hennessey Emerging Fiction award for 2011. She lives in Dublin and is working on a collection of short stories.