I have spent the last two weeks in the beautifully cool city of Santander, in the region of Cantrabia, Spain. I still had a couple of new short story collections to read at home and was debating to bring them with me but then I thought of using my kindle instead.
I downloaded “Solace” by Belinda McKeon and “Selected stories” by William Trevor and”Broken harbour” by Tana French.
Some explanation is needed, I think! Solace is a novel I have been meaning to read for a while. I hate reading a book just because it’s popular or won some type of award and Solace seemed that type of book. No, I would wait until I felt like reading it. That time came after the West Cork Lit festival in Bantry. Belinda Mc Keon was reading and staying at the whole event in the same hotel we were in. I saw her at breakfast every morning and noted she looked using iPads and twitter and was fascinatingly to look at. Sounds, like I was a bit obsessed, I wasn’t. She just happened to be an early riser like us! So, her little face stuck in my mind and when I downloaded the sample first chapter from Solace, I liked and wanted more. I read Solace in barely two days! Belinda really gets Ireland but especially rural Ireland. I had never thought of the pull of the father and the guilt of the son as they leave rural life, farming and land behind them. She also seems to write very descriptively about modern Dublin life and having a baby! Solace is a must read that reminds me of what a good short story is about:nothing but everything. The novel opens with a prologue which makes you carry on reading until the end. I’m giving nothing away!
The second novel I read in ultra quick time was Broken Harbour by Tana French. She is an Irish(well, we have claimed her as Irish!) crime writer whose first two novels scared the bejesus out of me! This one is as compelling though it seemed to go on a bit too much towards the end and didn’t scare me as much. Maybe, I’m becoming less nervy in older life! I enjoyed it, a very light read that those type of women might bring to the beach. Tana French is no Belinda Mc Keon thought I’m sure both women are happy with their own genre and style. Worth a read but not as good as her first two, though disturbing observations on the Celtic Tiger and what went could have gone wrong.
I am only half way through William Trevor’s Selected Stories. I’ve noticed that be seems to be a very formal, gentlemanly type of writer and his stories could be easily lengthened out into a novella. I’m enjoying him though and learning from him as the master of the short story. He was born in 1928 but he can do it all-old style, modern, funny, sexy…Jealous?
The holidays have been great for not only reading but for writing. Since, my time in Bantry, I have written 9 individual short stories, with two of them becoming the longest I have ever written. Now, the next step is to draft, redraft and then show to the writers group. We have a reading coming up at Penfest Carlow 2012 and hoping to get one into a good state for that!