Quote #20 – Helen Simpson

 

Abruptly she put the iron on its heel and swooped down on him, scooped him up and buried her nose in his neck with throaty growling noises. He huffed and shouted and laughed as they sank down to the lino laughing and shouting, then he rubbed his barely-there velvet nose against hers like an Eskimo, his eyes close and dark and merry, inches from hers, gazing in without shame or constraint.

It was going to be a long series of leave-takings from now on, she thought; goodbye and goodbye and goodbye; that had been the case with the others, and now this boy was three and a half. Unless she had another. But then Max would leave.Or so he said. This treacherous brainless greed for more of the same, it would finish her off if she wasn’t careful. If she wasn’t already.

 

Hey Yeah Right Get a Life  –  Helen Simpson

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Research Notes at Necessary Fiction: The Proverb Zoo

I’ve written a few words over at Necessary Fiction about the writing of The Proverb Zoo. It’s part of their Research Notes series, which is a great initiative that invites writers to talk about the “research” behind their books (research being left open to interpretation).

They also published my story “A slow, unstoppable devouring of everything” a few months ago, a story which is in The Proverb Zoo, should you want a taster (humhum, before buying it).

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First review of The Proverb Zoo; or, I could get used to this

The Proverb Zoo has received its first review at Headstuff, and I would lie if I said I wasn’t delighted with it and myself.

The collection is described as “a raucous, funny and constantly surprising set of tales populated with socialist dogs, obsessive children, miraculously animated statuettes of the Virgin Mary, elderly piano tuners and shipwrecked loners”, and my writing as bringing “a Nabokovian love of a second tongue and a perspective that feels fresh and distinct from Irish, Anglo or American voices”.

This is a very kind and thoughtful review, which ends by saying that “very little is playing it safe in this collection”. Well, safe to say that I’m a very happy writer right now.

 

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BOOOOOK OUT!

Folks, it’s official, my short story collection The Proverb Zoo is out in the world. Free. Well, you know, as in released. Unchained. You actually have to pay for it. You can do that here, from the good people of The Penny Dreadful. And you should, too.

There are 15 stories in it, a world war, an IKEA, a cut-off leg, dogs and cats in several forms, a whale, at least one miracle, three planes and a donkey, a shipwreck, some cuts and bruises… oh, and a few people too.

I was delighted to launch it last week in Cork’s Waterstone’s and Dublin’s Books Upstairs, and I look forward to the next time I get to share it with readers in person.

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(Me with a look I call “confused happiness”)

THE PROVERB ZOO: book launches in Cork and Dublin

Good citizens of Ireland! I’m delighted to announce that my short story collection The Proverb Zoo will be launched in just over a week, with the great folks of The Penny Dreadful Press.

There will be one in Cork on Tuesday 8th May, at 6.30 in Waterstone’s. (See here for the Facebook event page)

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Aaand also one in Dublin, or “the big smokey apple of lights”, as no one ever called it. It will be in the magnificent Books Upstairs, on Thursday 10th May at 6.30. (See here for Facebook event page).

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If you can come to either (or both!), it’d be great to see you there. I’m both super excited and pooping myself about it, so if not for the stories come for the bemused Armel.

 

 

Quote #19: Axolotl, by Julio Cortázar

There was a time when I thought a great deal about the axolotls. I went to see them in the aquarium at the Jardin des Plantes and stayed for hours watching them, observing their immobility, their faint movements. Now I am an axolotl.

– Axolotl, by Julio Cortázar (from Las Armas Secretas / The Secret Weapons)

 

Cortázar’s stories are just the stuff you need if you want your brain flipped sideways. The story “Axolotl” (you can read it here) is from the 1956 Spanish-language collection called Final del Juego. I read it in French in a book called Les Armes Secrètes, which collects 11 stories instead of the 5 in the original Las Armas Secretas. In English, it seems to be included in the collection Blow-Up and Other Stories, which gather yet a different selection. Jesus, foreign publishers, why mess with a good thing? Go figure. Anyway, pick up any of Cortázar’s books of stories, and teach your cortex the old back-flip.

 

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A FRANCO-IRISH HISTORY OF CRUELTY: an essay up at Threshold

I have a piece up at Threshold (a great resource for short story writers / lovers, by the way).

It’s a cross-reading of Kevin Barry’s ‘A Cruelty’ and Guy de Maupassant’s ‘Le Crime au Père Boniface’, two short stories that have stayed with me long after I read them, and that have plenty in common. Both feature men whose innocence make them ill-adapted to the world around them, and who’ll fall prey to their fellow men’s cruelty.

There’s some personal (hopefully) relevant anecdotes peppering the piece as well, so this really is a hybrid bit of writing. Hope you like it.