Reading for shorties

What did you read as a child? I was asked this question recently for an article about  the childhood reading of writers; the idea, I suppose, being that what we read as children is telling about what we write as adults. My earliest experience of reading was being read to.  When we were very small, […]

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Solvitur scribendo

When I was a teenage writer, I wrote to the Listowel short story writer Bryan MacMahon looking for literary advice on a story I’d written.  I was delighted some weeks later – this was the 70s in the days of handwritten letters – to get a reply, but terribly disappointed with what he said.  At […]

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A star of our time?

The American poet Robert Lowell is quoted as saying that if a writer lives long enough, he will see his reputation rise and fall – twice. In the case of Carson McCullers, an American writer of the deep South, Lowell’s thesis was never proved because she didn’t live long enough. McCullers (born Lula Carson Smith) […]

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Old age ain’t no place for sissies

“First houses are the grounds of our first experience.  Crawling about at floor level, room by room, we discover laws that we will apply later to the world at large,” the Australian writer, David Malouf, has written in his memoir 12 Edmondstone Street.  “The house is a field of dense affinities laid down, each one, […]

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The light hand of history

Éilís Ní  Dhuibhne is a shamefully under-rated writer. A true polymath, she writes in English and Irish, and across the genres – young adult, crime, and literary fiction in both the short story and the novel forms. Her second Selected Stories volume, just published by Dalkey Archive Press, demonstrates the range and breadth of her […]

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Igniting sparks

  Where do stories come from?  Most of the time, superstitiously, we don’t ask. And usually, it’s hard to say, because the process is so chaotic when it’s happening, and in retrospect seems too random to catalogue. But in the case of  my story, “Lockjaw”, which appears in the latest issue of The Lonely Crowd […]

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An empire going up in smoke

A father and daughter joshing for the camera, the father giving the daughter a “go” of his pipe. Not the sort of thing we would celebrate in the politically correct 21st century.  But this is a 20th century image, probably taken around 1913 and the father in the photograph is Tsar Nicholas 11, known as […]

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