The Irish have always been better than anyone else at the short story, a list of forebears of which Mary Lavin, Frank O’Connor and John McGahern are but the tip of the iceberg. Nowadays Nuala O’Connor, Colin Barrett and Kevin Barry are among those flying the flag for the form.
Though the small print of this Doire Press book did lead me one step further towards blindness, I did find it to be an accomplished collection of short fiction, with a multiplicity of successfully achieved narrative voices.
‘Through the Cracks’ entices you in through the quality of the writing in the first paragraph. ‘You were as bald as a fish in the lough and met me with that brilliantine inquisitive look: the quicksilver flash from the whites of your eyes at times ensconced behind delicate purple lids.’ This is what might have been a boring domestic story heightened by language, the baroque enlivening the prosaic. An elliptical story about the loss of a child, this is the form of story I favour – a lyrical narrative, an accumulation of exquisitely rendered details, arranged with authority, and told in a Carveresque seven pages, not the twenty-page slog so common at this moment in time, when length of story holds irrelevant precedence for people who think stories are just mini novels.
Stories that talk about iPhones and Twitter and any kind of modern technology tend to feel a little ephemeral, as though those stories will date equally as quickly. Blackberry, anyone? But as Joyce Carol Oates says, ‘You are not writing for posterity.’ So, Creighton’s story ‘Friend Request’ was a favourite in the book, an exploration of what might have been lost to Facebook. It effectively captures the passive aggressive tone so prevalent online and is truly a story of our times.
There’s an impressive variety of narrative voices here, and that multiplicity is clearly a strength.
Bank Holiday Hurricane is published by Doire Press and you can purchase a copy here.
Kelly Creighton’s debut novel The Bones of It (Liberties Press) was the San Diego Book Review’s 2015 Book of the Year, and nominated for the Kate O’Brien Award. She was runner-up for the McLaverty Award and shortlisted for a number of fiction and poetry prizes. Kelly has been awarded bursaries from Ards Arts, North Down and Ards Borough Council and the John Hewitt Society. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including: Litro, The Stinging Fly, Cyphers and others. She is founding editor of The Incubator, a journal showcasing the contemporary Irish short story. Bank Holiday Hurricane, her debut short-story collection, is forthcoming with Doire Press in September.
Reviewed by Neil Campbell
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