Thursday, 28 November 2013

Autumn at UCD

Autumn leaves at UCD. The mild weather led to more sugar being produced, hence the fab leaf colour, apparently!
The semester's teaching ended this week. [As a p/t MFA student, teaching was my only commitment, apart from writing, writing, writing, of course.]We looked for ways to trigger creative responses, and at elements of the craft such as creating characters, writing openings, using the senses, and writing dialogue. We read stories from Gish Jen, Kevin Barry, Alice Munro, Lydia Davis, Deborah Levy, James Joyce and Donal Ryan, and tried to figure out how and why these stories worked, and which attributes we could steal and apply to our own stories. Later, we read stories from the students themselves and even had a go at workshopping, which was both fun and productive. I look forward to receiving the portfolios in due course.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Follow This Blog

Hi Blog Followers,
Thanks for reading my offerings thus far. I've had some problems with people trying to follow - apparently google friends connect has been gone for some time - and I hope I've remedied this. Would you be so kind as to go to the site and click on the small 'Follow this blog' bloglovin button. Much obliged!

Monday, 11 November 2013

Necessary Reading at Necessary Fiction

 A teacher once told me that we all want/need our offspring to be brighter, faster, and better looking than we are ourselves. It hadn't occurred to me to want any of these - I was content to make it to sleeping-through-the-night and staying healthy. But in an evolutionary light, he is, of course, right. 

In the same way, I believe it is important for writers to continuously stimulate and challenge ourselves as readers. Because we all want to get better, don't we; we want the next book to be better than the last. Stagnation does no good for the writer or her readers, or the literature project in general.

Necessary Fiction is a webjournal which, along with one story each Wednesday, research and translation notes, and a writer in residence, publishes book reviews. At NF, they're 'interested in reviewing fiction from independent publishers, with a moderate emphasis on short story collections, novellas and translations.' I'm lucky enough to occasionally contribute to the latter, and one of the perks is receiving the kind of wonderful stuff I might not be able to pick up in my local bookshops. Bess, a chapbook by Daphne Gottlieb, was one such read, and my review is up today.

But the best bit is the five other reviews - commissioned by review editor Michelle Bailat Jones, a woman who knows where to get the good stuff - among which I'm likely to find my next outside-the-mainstream read. 

After that, nothing remains but to BE one of those reviewed books (or at the very least, a Wednesday story...)

Friday, 1 November 2013

Suddenly A Knock On The Door

When reading a collection of short stories I tend to put the book down when each story ends. This is to give me time to reflect on it, but also, like drawings on an Etch-A-Sketch, to clear away one story before preparing to imagine another. In complete contradiction to this habit, I picked this up yesterday and haven't put it down since. It's a breath of fresh air. The stories are quirky, funny, and incredibly original. It's not that they don't merit reflection — they do — but it's the kind of collection that, without being a linked collection, is more than the sum of its parts. I suspect its impact will continue long after I finish reading — the best litmus test (especially if I ever happen to visit Tel Aviv again, where most (all?) of the stories are set, and which, if Keret's stories are in any way representative, is a truly strange and wonderful place).