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.

Edna O’ Brien-The Widow-New Yorker Podcast

Long journey back from my home place in Mayo to Carlow today. So, Simon and I listened to a few podcasts from the New Yorker Fiction and Poetry podcasts. The poet John Ashbery was read by Meaghan O’ Rourke. Short stories were Edna O’Brien’s The Widow and Carver’s The Chef’s House.

New Yorker Fiction and Poetry podcasts are available free to download every month on iTunes or on android via an app called podcast addict.

Here’s the Edna link where Andrew O’ Hagan reads “The Widow” short story with analysis afterwards. http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/fiction/andrew-ohagan-reads-edna-obrien

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!


The Long and Painful Death by Claire Keegan

I have been dipping in and out of Claire Keegan’s two collections for the last year or two. SAvouring them and taking my time. I started her second collection this morning, Walk the blue fields because of a reminder from a friend last night who claimed Claire was a genius of a writer.


The first story is called A long and painful death. An excellent title. It is set on Heinrich Boll’s cottage on Achill Island. A writer goes on a retreat and meets a German writer who is none to pleased with her cake making skills. It is a quietly put together story with apt and beautiful descriptions of the landscape of the West. It also gives us the perfect ending for the characters and story and title.

I didn’t even know this artist’s residence exists in Mayo, here is the link if you would like to apply or attend the annual weekend there. http://www.goethe.de/ins/ie/en/dub/kul/mag/germanyhome/20509514.html

and an interesting article on Claire Keegan and Judith Herman in conversation http://www.goethe.de/ins/ie/en/dub/kul/mag/germanyhome/20509514.html

Claire Keegan Fiction Workshop

Last weekend, I attended a Claire Keegan Workshop on fiction, specifically the short story. I am a big fan of her short stories so it was strange to meet her and then for her to be my teacher. My mind is blown away by everything that she taught us, everything that she shared, the reading lists, the encouragement and the hard work!


I am not at liberty to revel one word of what went on, it sounds very mysterious but I can tell you that if you love fiction and short stories and want to learn much, much more than you every thought you would, then sign up! Claire runs various workshops all over Ireland and Europe and you can find her website at http://ckfictionclinic.com/


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!