For the weekend that’s in it – a Bank Holiday here in Ireland – here are some short stories for you to enjoy.
I’ve been reading short stories since I was a teenager when I came across EM Forster’s ‘The Machine Stops’, which I think might have been on the O level English Literature curriculum, alongside ‘Odour of Chrysanthemums’ by DH Lawrence.
I haven’t stopped reading stories since, and these days I have a go at writing them, too. I’ve had ten published so far – but I’m keen to learn more about what makes them work, which is why I’m booked into a Short Fiction Workshop with writer Danielle McLaughlin at Listowel Writers’ Week (June 3rd and 4th 2017).
Here’s one of Danielle’s stories, first published in The New Yorker in September 2104, ‘Dinosaurs on Other Planets’.
And a link to a blog post I wrote last year when I met that very author in a Cork bookshop. She was minding her own business looking at books with her children and I was there buying her short story collection.
News was out earlier this year that Tom Hanks has turned his hand to writing and has a collection of short stories due for publication in the autumn. Here’s one he had published in The New Yorker in October 2014: ‘Alan Bean Plus Four’
Meanwhile, if you haven’t read EM Forster’s ‘The Machine Stops’, do give it a go – but bear in mind that it was first published in 1909; the style is a bit wordy (at 12,000+ words it is really a novella), but the message about how humankind is on a path to self-destruction is chilling, and very pertinent to modern times.
There are plenty of other examples of good story writing available to view for free via the internet. The New Yorker publishes some crackers, the Irish Times has the Hennessy New Irish Writing story once a month, and the Moth, The Stinging Fly, Crannóg and Banshee magazines all publish short stories and flash fiction.
Then there are the competitions – there are dozens, nay probably hundreds, out there. Some I enter, some I don’t. I take the view that someone has to win, so why not me? That modus operandi has worked a couple of times (thankfully) but isn’t foolproof. Reading the winning entries can be a revelation.
I haven’t won the Costa Short Story Competition, but Kit de Vaal did in 2014 with ‘The Old Man and the Suit’.
And Billy O’Callaghan’s story ‘The Boatman’ was runner-up in the Costa Competition last year.
Just because I think it’s a great read, here’s ‘Foster’ by Claire Keegan from The New Yorker, February 2010 .
Raymond Carver wrote classic short stories; here’s one first published in 1989: ‘Little Things’.
And finally, here’s a link to one of my own short stories – one I’m still quite proud of, ‘Flying Lessons’.
And yes, I know, pride is a sin. Ah well.