Looking back over the amount of books I read this year, I feel a bit disheartened. 13! Only 13 books. Recently, my excuse for every sort of failing is to blame it on the baby! I am going to blame my small reading list on the presence of our beautiful, sunny little boy who also naturally loves books too! If I think about it, the reason he is showing such interest in books, then it has to be down to the time Simon and I have put it that. That is for another post!
I want to briefly list the books I read this year and then expand on a few of my favourite stories from the whole host.
- Tom Morris with his debut collection “We don’t know what we are doing”
- Danielle Mc Laughlin “Dinosaurs on other planets”
- “Tender” by Belinda McKeon
- “The Green Road” by Anne Enright
- “Walk the blue fields” by Claire Keegan
- “Antartica” by Claire Keegan-a re-read
- Chekhov-“Selected Stories”-this was a re-read
- Donal Ryan and “A Slanting at the sun”
- “Beatlebone” by the brilliant and much loved, lit-crush, Kevin Barry.
- Madeleine D’arcy and her debut short story collection “Waiting for the bullet”
- Paul O’ Reilly and his debut collection “Girl at the window”
- Flannery O Connor and her complete stories-re-read of some of them and some are new to me-It is a large volume!
- Selected Stories by David Constantine
- “Cathedral” by Raymond Carver-a third re=read, I think. My all-time litcrush is the Carver.
Stories that have stuck with me over the whole year, stories that I recommend to friends to read and stories that I force the very poetry-obsessed husband to read are the ones I would like to push on you, like a sort of “Short story” drug overlord!
First one is Thomas Morris and his story “Castleview”. Thomas has a great talent for writing about nothing and everything, a relaxed storytelling style with his lovely Welsh accent coming up throughout the whole of his collection. I really enjoyed his collection but “Castleview” sticks with me. A young teacher with a sadness, a sad wife and a sad life gets even sadder at the end. It ends with him aggressively rubbing a stain on the carpet which ends in blood on his knuckles which ends in a looking out the window in wonder and disgust and looking back in on his sorry self. His stories are powerful and often very, funny and observed.
Second is Claire Keegan. I could choose many of her” stories but it has to be “The Ginger Rogers Sermon. An impulsive, dare I say “naughty” schoolgirl seduces one of her father’s workers and the twists and the tragedy keep on coming and ends with an almost evil family dance in their parlour. This story is proving to be in my top three most loved stories and one in which prompted me to attend a recent, superb workshop with the writer, Claire Keegan.
I have always enjoyed reading David Constantine’s short fiction and when Comma Press/Atlantic Books sent me on his new, Selected Stories to read, I savaged them!(the stories, not the publishing company) This collection opens with “In another country” which has inspired a Film 4 film called 45 years. I have not seen this film and again, I blame the M-boy baby! This short story is a fave and was when I read it years again before the film came out. David writes with little regard but full respect for puncuation, sentences and dialogue marks. If you have read him, you will understand and probably agree it totally works. “In another country” is about a married couple who are together for 45 years and getting quite old. News from the past arrives that threatens to wreck those 45 years. It is a tender, slow and quiet story that will make you want to re-read it again just for the awfully tragic ending. I love it.
Donal Ryan sickens us all in a good way. Seems like a lovely man whenever I see him read or hear him on the radio. He also can write novels and now he seems to easily write short stories. I know they weren’t easy but a sign of a good story is one which seems as if “I could do that” and his debut collection, “A Slanting at the sun” definitely does that! I loved most of his stories, some were not quite in the traditional short story genre and more of a musing on life and sadness. My favourite was the title of the collection, A Slanting at the sun. Donal will make you all teary, his writing is so emotionally strong that you would want to be made of steel to not cry or feel the pain of the characters. In this story, he layers the emotions on and on and up and up climaxing with a pensive reflection from the aggrieved character. I won’t give plot details away. If you want to see how it is done, go get the book.
I could go on an rave about each and every one of the books I read and how they moved me in different ways but you really should have been reading my blog and their individual reviews throughout 2015! Pay more attention next year! Actually, my next post will be a New Year promise to myself and you. Based on reading and stories and stuff.
We have little time to do everything so read the three stories above for different reasons, but mostly because you treasure the short story.
Happy Christmas! See you in my next post in the New Year or just before it!