A Personal Anthology of short stories

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "maureen mchugh apocalypse"

I wrote a bit on twelve short stories that have stayed with me in A Personal Anthology, run by Jonathan Gibbs. It’s a great project: a weekly newsletter of 12 short stories selected by a different literary person everytime. You can (and should) sign up to the newsletter itself, or browse the site by writer/contributor.

I’ve tried to make my contribution varied enough, and most stories are available to read online, so go have a look!


Résultat de recherche d'images pour "j robert lennon paradise"Résultat de recherche d'images pour "carys davies redemption"


Stray thoughts on the aging of translation

  1. I read recently in Le Monde des Livres, the literary supplement to Le Monde, an article on re-translating books, and more specifically Poe and Fenilore Cooper. A part struck me: they talked of the recent wave of re-translations for American noir novels, the Raymond Chandlers & Co., that had to be “dépigallisé” (from Paris are Pigalle), ie cleaned up of the obsolete slang, to “go back to the modernity of their language and the complexity of their characters”. This is the same monstruously heavy slang that one will find in movies with Lino Ventura or Jean Gabin, which, added to the old-timey pronunciation, can make classic films appear multi-layeredly (sorry) remote.
  2. A few years ago my cousin was reading some Hemingway (in French). My mother, who used to be a French teacher, and hence pretty well read, commented on the fact that she was reading such an old-fashioned novel. While in the English speaking world old Ernest has remained esteemed as a modern classic, his style still pointed to as an example, in France it feels like he’s one of these old guys we don’t really think about. (Sub-thought: a student of mine – I teach English – was recently reading The Old Man and the Sea in bilingual format, with opposite pages in English and French. Hemingway’s pared-down sentences were turned into rich, convoluted ones.)
  3. I had the opportunity recently to see Hitchcock’s  North by Northwest (1959) in the cinema. When Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) meets Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) in the restaurant car of the train he’s fleeing on, he tells her within a minute of sitting down at her table that it’ s hard not to tell a beautiful woman “that I wanted to make love to her” (or something along those lines). The French sub-titles read “that I want to court her”. Pure gent, like.


Yes, he is.


Weird film in Nightscript

I have a new story out in the fourth volume of the excellent Nightscript anthology. It’s about a film shoot, a forest, maybe lovers. I’m quite happy with it, if I can say so myself.

In usual Nightscript fashion, it’s full of brilliant dark stories. And if you’re looking for something to read this Halloween (and beyond), they have a great offer: a bundle of the four volumes for 44$, shipping included WORLD-WIDE!

Cork International Short Story Festival

Folks, I am obviously terrible at this being up-to-date thing, but I thought I’d still say a few words on here about the Cork International Short Story Festival that took place in September, between the 12th and the 15th.

I was lucky enough to be invited to read from The Proverb Zoo. The event was in Cork’s central library, which meant a lot to me, in that the place is a little the ground zero of my writing career*. I used to live across the river from the library, and I spent a good few hours in its warm, well-lit interior. And it’s at the festival that I first heard people talk about writing, and in particular about short stories. I attended it a good few years, volunteered for it once. So, yeah, it meant a lot to participate as a writer.

There were loads of great short story writers. Highlights for me were Welsh writer Carys Davies (who writes some pretty striking historical stories), and Ben Marcus (US). I read his The Age of Wire and String a few years ago, a crazy little collection that reads like an encyclopedia of a world both familiar and a little (a lot) off. At the festival he read a brilliant story from his brand-new book Notes from the fog.

Events I regret missing were Irish writer Mia Gallagher and Helen Oyeyemi (UK), whose works are well worth checking out.

All in all, a brilliant festival to attend for short story lovers who are not to far from Cork, or can make their way there somehow.



elizabeth olsen royalty GIF

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

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).


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.