Congratulations to our January 2012 Winners!

We’re delighted to announce our four winners who will read their short stories at our January 2012 event. They are David Butler (Return); Eileen Keane (Boy on a Window Ledge); Caroline Healy (I Am Eight); and Sheila Armstrong (Foxtails & Soup). Congratulations David, Eileen, Caroline, and Sheila!

Join us at the Irish Writers’ Centre on Wednesday, January 25th at 7pm to hear these wonderful stories.

Thank you to our guest judge this month, the wonderful Nuala Ní Chonchúir. Nuala’s latest collection of poetry “The Juno Charm” has just been published by Salmon Poetry and her short story collection “To the World of Men, Welcome” (Arlen House) has been re-issued in a new expanded paperback, available from Kenny’s.

You can find Nuala’s website here. Or follow her fantastic blog for all things writing-related here.

Nuala had the following to say about the four stories she selected:

“Return”

An intriguing, modern story; there is a lot said in few words in this piece. It contains very good dialogue. There are some lovely turns of phrase: ‘the wind down the Lawrence would skin a mink’; ‘the cameras clack like beaks’.

The dialogue is good – I love the bluster of the men, the directness of the women. This is a story that leaves the reader with (welcome) questions. Well done.

“Boy on a Window Ledge”

Good title – it hooks the reader immediately. The secondperson voice is well handled. A very menacing start that sets the reader up for bad things to follow. There are great images in the piece like: ‘there’s an uneven drizzle that wafts in over the houses like a shaggy dog shaking itself out’; ‘she stiffened and pushed you away like you were trying to steal her skin’.

An unreliable narrator is always a joy. Well done.

“I am Eight”

The child’s voice is well executed . I like the use of capitals on certain words – it adds to the childish perspective. There are some great phrases, like this one, when Suzy is being bullied: ‘I pretended, in my head, that my fingers were made of glass and that I was shredding their faces’; and, ‘Daddy doesn’t drink like Mammy, he eats the bible instead. Big fat chunks of it.’

There are arresting, disturbing details in this story that add to it, like the mother putting Lucy under the sink ‘to keep her out of the way’. The violence against Suzy is brought neatly around in the ending. A poignant, well-written piece. Well done.

“Foxtails and Soup”

A great title – I am immediately interested.

There are some gorgeous sentences, like this one: ‘The red fox gives tongue to death for all the small things of this world.’ And: ‘Arguments would swell and soften, swell and soften, and sometimes burst like a ripe old boil.’

I like the menace and violence in the piece – it builds a good, harsh atmosphere that matches the setting and the actions of the father. There is a good mix of myth and farm life.

I enjoyed the way the closing sentence refers back, but also wraps things up in an unarguable way (pretty much like the character of the father). Well done.

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