The many faces of Lucy Caldwell

by Alex Peake-Tomkinson at BookanistaLucy_Caldwell_portrait

Multitudes is the first book of short stories from the prizewinning novelist and playwright Lucy Caldwell. The collection is eleven stories strong and each of the stories seems to describe a character in peril so that holding one’s breath whilst reading them sometimes feels unavoidable. Caldwell agrees to meet me to discuss the stories and I worry that she might be quite earnest – few people write their first novels at 21, after all. My fears dissipate, however, when she suggests we talk over glasses of wine at a bar in Spitalfields.

The stories in this collection feel quite perilous, as though the characters are on the brink of something that could be dangerous and there is a sense of people waiting for their fate. I guess that’s what it’s like to be a teenage girl, when you lack agency, I suggest.

“Yes, and I … Read more

Dear Baby Mine

dear_baby_mineLucy Caldwell’s new radio drama for BBC Radio 4, Dear Baby Mine, was broadcast in June 2016. The omnibus edition of the drama will be available on BBC iPlayer for 30 days.

Synopsis

When Conor is told he has the condition azoospermia and is not producing any sperm, he struggles to come to terms with the implications of his diagnosis. He cannot father his own child. He cannot give his wife Keeley the baby she so desperately longs for. He feels lost, confused, guilty, responsible. All his assumptions and expectations for the future are thrown out of the window.

As both he and Keeley try to come to terms with the fact that Conor cannot father a child naturally and explore the other options available to them they embark on an emotional rollercoaster that will challenge their assumptions, their relationship, and their idea of family.

Listen to the drama Read more

Five Things Right Now: Lucy Caldwell

(chosen for Granta Magazine. See the original article here)

1. Dusty Bluebells documentary

The Northern Irish poet Stephen Connolly, @closeandslow, tweeted a link to this old BBC NI documentary from 1971, and I happened to see the tweet, watch the documentary, and was entranced. It’s about Belfast children and the street songs they sang, the games they played, even as their wider world was disintegrating around them. It took me right back to my childhood, the endless skipping games and cat’s cradles, but even more preciously, it sparked a story, ‘The Ally Ally O’, which is now the first story in my debut collection. (Stephen: if you happen to see this, the pints are on me.)

2. The Architecture Foundation: New Architects 3

Every ten years, the Architecture Foundation selects Britain’s best emerging practices and publishes the result in a glossy hardback. (Think Granta’s Best of Young British … Read more

On Why Short Stories Matter

maeve_brennanA good short story: greater than the sum of its parts

A short story is a shot of vodka (Chekhov), a love affair to the novel’s marriage (Lorrie Moore), a high wire act (Kevin Barry). It’s a hand grenade, a sprint, a shock, a shiver. There’s something taut, essential, elusive about it. There’s a magic to it, an alchemy. A good short story has to infer the entire and immersive world of a novel, create the same depth of consciousness in its characters, and yet with a mere fraction of the words. It requires the concision of poetry, and maybe the comparison with poetry goes even further: it needs to work on a symbolic plane as well as on the level of the literal narrative.

A good short story needs to be far greater than the sum of its parts, something that unfurls in you after you’ve read it, echoes … Read more

Multitudes: eleven stories

MultitudeFrom Belfast to London and back again the eleven stories that comprise Caldwell’s first collection explore the many facets of growing up – the pain and the heartache, the tenderness and the joy, the fleeting and the formative – or ‘the drunkenness of things being various’.

Stories of longing and belonging, they culminate with the heart-wrenching and unforgettable title story.

Praise for “Multitudes”

‘An underhyped Irish writer? They do exist. Lucy Caldwell … writes an understated, conversational prose that never advertises itself unduly … Multitudes is her debut collection, and it’s brilliant … Like Joyce’s Dubliners, Multitudes begins with stories of childhood, moves on through stories of adolescence, and ends with stories of maturity.’
Kevin Power, Sunday Business Post

‘ The stories in Multitudes collectively work as a sort of kaleidoscopic bildungsroman … a lively, humane book, gritty but wholehearted, and it offers an ultimately optimistic, progressive vision for … Read more