This week, I’m headed for Ireland with one hot-off-the-press, slightly bizarre crime novel, one debut novel and one well-known set of short stories.
I’ve already read and enjoyed two of the writers and the other has been in my TBR for a while with an earlier novel, so I’m expecting a week of rich and diverse reading.
‘The Art OF Falling’ by Danielle McLaughlin (2021)
I picked up Danielle McLaughin’s debut novel, The Art Of Falling, because I had been so impressed by her short story collection, Dinosaurs On Other Planets.
I see short stories as an art form in their own right rather than just condensed versions of novels. Not all short story writers can write novels and not all novelists can write short stories. I’m keen to see what is the same and what is different about Danielle McLaughlin’s writing and storytelling when she’s working in the novel format.
Her short story, ‘Snow Globe’ showed me how aware she is of some of the challenges and absurdities offered by the public perception of art so I’m expecting the art world landscape of this novel to be a fertile one. I also like the idea of her working through the ‘woman-coping-with-secrets-from-her-past-that-threaten-her-present trope. From her stories, I’m expecting an original take on this that goes beyond the well-worn paths of the sub-genre.
I’m hoping for something character-driven, filled with the complexities and ambiguities of human frailties and fears, rather than a woman-in-danger novel with an art theme.
‘Strange Sally Diamond’ by Liz Nugent (2023)
I’d intended to pull Liz Nugent’s Lying In Wait off my TBR pile as part of my Irish Fiction week. Then, one of the readers that I follow on GoodReads gave Strange Sally Diamond a five-star review, I read the publisher’s summary, listened to the sample on Audible and knew that I wanted Strange Sally Diamond to be the first Liz Nugent book that I read.
The premise is more than a little bizarre. The story could go anywhere. I’m happy to be along for the ride because I think that Sally Diamond is going to be worth reading.
‘Walk The Blue Fields’ by Claire Keegan (2007)
Claire Keegan’s novella, Small Things Like These was one of my favourite reads of 2021. the theme was compelling, the historical setting was vivid and I believed in the people. It’s a story that has lingered in my imagination so I’m going back to Claire Keegan’s earlier work and sampling her short stories
There are seven stories in Walk The Blue Fields. I’m expecting each one to be something to be savoured, so I’m likely to ration myself to one story a day. I’m hoping for clear, clean prose offering me a view of people and situations that will feel real and make me think.