Long trips to home in Mayo and the New Yorker podcast

I am originally from a small village in the West of Ireland. It takes us about 5-6 hours to get from my home in Carlow to my Mum’s house! so, Simon and I listen to New Yorker Fiction and Poetry Podcasts as there are hundreds of them available for free.


A well-known author reads a short story from another well-known author previously published in the New Yorker Magazine. For book lovers, each podcast is an hour of bliss. The New Yorker Fiction editor, Deborah Treisman is the Editor of the New Yorker Fiction magazine and is a brilliant interviewer. She always comes across as really serious and sometimes as if she doesn’t understand the short stories that are being read out! Obviously, being who she is, this is her way of getting to the nub of the story and pulling some good stuff out of the writer she is interviewing.

On the way down, we listened to David Means’ short story, the Spot being read by Jonathan Franzen. It is a most excellent story and we enjoyed the poetic rhythm and messed up characters and general naughtiness. On the way back, we listened to short story-hero of mine, Kevin Barry read Brian Friel’s, Saucer of Larks. Kevin is always very entertaining and his readings of stories are the best. He had Deborah giggling and laughing away.

You can hear Kevin read here at http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/fiction/kevin-barry-reads-brian-friel

and Jonathan read David Mean at http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/fiction/jonathan-franzen-reads-david-means

I use a free app called Podcast addict which downloads all the NY Fiction and poetry podcasts for me and has them ready for long, long, long roadtrips. Enjoy.

Poetry Workshop with Philip Terry

There will be a poetry workshop with Phillip Terry in the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies, Mater Dei Institute (DCU)  at 6 p.m on Tuesday 1st March  2016.

Philip Terry was born in Belfast, and is currently Director of Creative Writing at the University of Essex.  He is the author of the lipogrammatic novel The Book of Bachelors, and the poetry collections Oulipoems, Oulipoems 2, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets.  His translations include a version of Dante’s Inferno relocated to present-day Essex, and Raymond Queneau’s last published book of poetry, Elementary Morality.

Philip Terry’s tapestry was shortlisted in 2013 for the Goldsmiths Prize. 

It is a free workshop so if you are about the area, contact Michael Hinds at michael.hinds@dcu.ie.
Oh, to live nearer the capital!


Things to do and stuff to read:Happy New Year 2016!

In my last post, I mentioned I had a couple of books to start and some to finish. Sometimes, I download a collection on my kindle but never finish it! This never happens with a real book and I bet no-one can explain it.


I get quite obsessed and excited when new collections come out that I buy them up and leave them sitting on my bookcase for a while and then another one comes out and then…i am left with loads of books waiting to be read. In the middle of this process, I’ll get sent a book or two to review and i feel pressured and one should never feel pressured when it comes to reading. So, I am going to set out my reading stall for 2016 below. Books or collections I have to read first before I buy and then after them, I can have ones that I want to buy! I also want to read some classic tales and give my authors a stir so re-reads of Carver, Chekhov and Trevor.

Books to read in 2016

  • In another country-Selected Stories-David Constantine-finish! This was given to me by Atlantic Books/Comma Press.
  • Staying thin for Daddy-a debut collection by Deirdre Brennan-start!
  • Galway Stories-given to me by the lovely Lisa in Doire Press.
  • Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman-started reading it on my kindle and abandoned though was thoroughly enjoying it.
  • Moons of Jupiter by Alice Monro-downloaded this for her “Turkey Season” short story for a Festive Open Mic a few years ago.
  • Selected Stories by Chekhov-have read so many of these stories but a few remain unread!
  • Collected Stories-William Trevor-downloaded but need to finish
  • Flannery O’ Connor Selected Stories-need to finish!
  • Thunderstruck and other stories by Elizabeth Mc Cracken-recommended by a Mr. Parkes
  • Will you be please be quiet, please? by Raymond Carver.
  • Honoured Guest by Joy Williams recommended by a Mr. Barrett.
  • Collected Stories by William Faulkner recommended by a Ms. Keegan.
  • Sherwood Anderson’s Winesberg, Ohio-free on kindle-re-reads from UCD
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert-free on kindle-re-reads from UCD
  • The beautiful and the damned by Fitzgerald, F. Scott-free on kindle-re-reads from UCD.

I would think that there is plenty there to keep me and you going to the end of 2016. Happy days and a very Happy New Year of 2016 to you and your reading family and friends!

My reading year of 2015

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!


Podcast: A chat and a bowl of soup with Madeleine D’arcy

I had one day and night at the recent International Short Story Festival in Cork so I chose the Wednesday. I arrived down and headed straight for coffee and a scone over a short story in the English Market cafe upstairs.

Image: www.corkshortstory.net
Image: www.corkshortstory.net

Then, it was off to the Quay C0-op, a massive Health Food type Vegan joint which has been in Cork in years and I had never heard of! I was due to meet the lovely Madeleine D’Arcy to chat about her debut short story collection, Waiting for the bullet and have a spot of lunch.

Here is the podcast. https://www.dropbox.com/s/ab4u2x1tyqevc0o/madeleine.mp3?dl=0


Anton Chekhov and his short story, “Overseasoned”

I’m re-reading Anton Chekhov at the moment, I got his “Selected Stories” for a couple of euro a while back so thought I would have a little look!


The first story is called “Overseasoned”. It is a sort of fable story. Its lesson is not to judge people on first appearance but going deeper, it is Chekhov and his estimation of the social classes in his time. There are some wonderful landscape descriptions of the lonely forest and a lot happens in the four pages it inhabits. It reads like an old story yet I found a modern update of it in a short film here. It is always reasuring when a writer’s stories can be transferred and worked on again in present day. Enjoy this. Very well done.

The short story by Chekhov can be read here for free. http://www.bangalorereview.com/2013/07/overseasoned-by-anton-pavlovich-chekhov/


I am reading all over the place

Books in my life at the moment


Galway Stories given to me by Lisa Frank, “Selected Stories” by Chekhov bought for €2.99, “The Milo Adventures” reviewed by me for the In touch Magazine, “Everything ravaged, everything burned.” just finished and enjoyed greatly. Finally, I just got a hold of Thomas Morris’ debut short story collection, “We don’t know what we’re doing”.

I need more time!


Cork International Short Story Festival 2015

I am so excited! I missed last year’s Short Story festival in Cork due to a little baby boy being only 3 weeks old! But, this year, he is bigger and I am getting sleep, we have a routine and my husband is very kind.


I am off to Cork for a day and a night. I am meeting up with Madeleine D’Arcy to chat to her about writing and stuff. Going to get to Deirdre Brennan’s reading, Danielle Mac Laughlin and Tom Morris and I will spend obscene amounts of money on short fiction. There will also be a dinner of tapas at some stage with an old friend who also loves short stories.

Life is the best, you know.


The Girl missing from the Window by Paul O’ Reilly

The Girl missing from the Window by Paul O’ Reilly

I am always excited about new Irish short story writers, Paul O’ Reilly seems to gave won every awards going and is also talented in every artistic way you can name. His collection, The Girl missing from the Window is published by Doire Press and was launched at the Strawberry Festival in Enniscorthy which I attended.


Paul writes very well, he can pull a story structure together exceptionally well and constructs the perfect start and end of stories with no hardship.

The first story in the collection, What Rose did, draws you in from the title and the opening sentence.

“The day before Rose Carney died was a Friday.”

It’s direct, always a winner for a short story so it makes you want to read on and on. The story is slow-paced with simple language. It is highly current as the topic of the story is that of teenage suicide. It seems to have gained a lot of attention as when I read reviews on the collection, it was mentioned constantly.


Other interesting stories were What’s eating him? This story  has a strong American feel to it, about a customer who falls in lust with the waitress in the diner that he is in. A good feel to this as I read it, easy going.

The Love Drug marks a departure from the tone/style taken by the writer so far. In this, the narrator is a grieving husband who loses his wife due to a mistake she makes at a party. I won’t give it away but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that this type of situation is outside of writer’s normal life experience. I think it shows slightly and I’m not sure if I was convinced of how real the character’s lives and mistakes were to the writer. It’s like when your mother or father tries to be hip, cool and down with it. Anyway, all I can say is that perhaps the writer was experimenting with content and he gives it his best attempt, which was good enough for me a a reader.

Guys and the way they might look at you is also a very good story. Probably my favourite out of the collection. I like a long, short story and this is such. I hated the female character and loved the male one in it. For me, this means the story is a hit! For example, if I can feel strong emotions towards one character as if they are real, then the story is alive. I loved the way the story was drawn out and out and left linger at nearly forty pages long. The ending too, is sweet and smacks of real people, real life and relationships. This is where the writer shines, when he can write feeling into the characters and where I can feel like this really could happen and not just an idea that has no connection with the writer and his experience.

I would recommend the collection as Paul is a skillful short story writer. The Girl Missing from the Window is a balanced piece of work that centers around the relationships in families and partnerships, each story earns its place with the quieter ones sitting nicely among the more noisy ones! It entertains!

You can buy this book from Doire Press at doirepress.com