“Mayday”, a short story by Lucy Caldwell

As apart of The Pool Short Story Week
Listen to the podcast, or read the story below…

Mayday

Ten days later, the package finally comes. It is a small, brown, padded envelope, her name and address typed on a white label. The postmark is the Netherlands. Inside is a blister pack of tablets, one round and four ovals. No instructions, no warnings, and nothing to identify the sender. She pops out the round tablet there and then, in the hallway, and tries to swallow it down, but her mouth is too dry. She feels it stuck at the back of her throat. She makes it into the kitchen and pours a pint glass of water, drinks the whole thing down. The glass has a dried scum of lace at its neck and the water tastes stale. She can still feel the sensation of the tablet, lodged. There was a fresher, … Read more

Praise for “Three Sisters”

three-sisters-3“More than 100 years later, the three sisters are still stuck, but in Lucy Caldwell’s admirably free-handed adaptation of Chekhov’s play for the Lyric, the siblings are now mired as much in 1990s Belfast as they are in a particular point in history. In Selina Cartmell’s fluid production a fresh and uneasy peace is still stalked by soldiers, and army brats Orla, Marianne and Erin stand between a past they would rather forget and a future that has no obvious accommodation for them. Some cruelties are amplified (the sisters, defending their territory from a Chinese sister-in-law, are now flat-out racist), some subtleties are lost (the manner of the telling is unnecessarily forced), but Caldwell’s elegiac take on people in transition is absorbing and affecting, squinting uncertainly towards what is yet to come.”
Irish Times

Caldwell has made Chekhov’s play astonishingly resonant, making it alive to past trauma brutally embedded in … Read more

Talking Chekhov on RTÉ’s “Inside Culture”

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Inside Culture on RTÉ Radio (September 26) looked at the life and work of the Russian author Anton Chekhov.

Lucy Caldwell talks about why her translation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters  – which premières at the Lyric Theatre in October – has moved the setting to 1990’s Belfast and how the Belfast voice works so well with certain aspects of the original Russian.


Read more

Streets Like These: Van Morrison’s influence

Van Morrison’s music is woven deep into the fabric of my childhood. But even more than these clusters of memories, his music seems the very soul of my childhood places

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The memory of a long car journey, coming back over the Craigantlet Hills from a trip to Donaghadee Lighthouse. The dip of the road and the sudden sensation of weightlessness, flying; the lights of the city spread out for you below. The soundtrack in my head is Van Morrison, of course: “Take me back, take me back, take me back / Take me way back, take me way back / Take me way back, take me way back / Take me way, way, way, way, way, way, way back…”

I’m likely remembering not one particular journey. On summer weekends, or special occasions, or most excitingly of all, if my Dad was test-driving a new car, we would drive out of … Read more

Cyprus Avenue, a short story by Lucy Caldwell

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“December has always been hard, but this year will be the hardest December yet. You will feel yourself struggling to shoulder the weight of it; will want, more keenly than ever, to shrug it off, just this once, just for one year; and you’ll find yourself saying on the phone to your mum: I might not actually be able to get home. The last word will stick in your throat and you’ll hear her hear it, feel your heart beating. Your mum will clear her throat and say nothing, wait for you to say, The flights are so booked up, and, My boss… But the excuses you’ve rehearsed so persuasively in your head die away on your lips. You’ll picture her, standing in the middle of the draughty hallway wearing her padded bodywarmer and scarf because even with the central heating on full-blast she feels the cold too much these … Read more

“Three Sisters” at the Lyric, Belfast

I don’t know what it is I’m going to do but I’m going to do something. I’m going to be someone. I am! I’m sick of just being me. I’m going to be someone else. Someone better. I’m going to make a difference.

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Chekhov’s masterpiece from 1900 is reset in 1990s Belfast by award-winning novelist and playwright Lucy Caldwell. Three sisters – Orla, Marianne and Erin – dream of a better tomorrow, perhaps even starting a new life in America. All three are dissatisfied with their lots in life for different reasons, but finding the resolve to make the life changes that will bring real happiness is hard. Can they break free, or will they be condemned to a life of unfulfilled ambition?

I don’t know what it is I’m going to do but I’m going to do something. I’m going to be someone. I am! I’m sick of just Read more

Irish Times Book Club choice: “Multitudes”

(Published in The Irish Times, Sep 2, 2016)

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Multitudes by Lucy Caldwell is September’s Irish Times Book Club selection. The Belfast author’s short story collection, published by Faber in May, was described by Young Skins author Colin Barrett in The Irish Times as “a lively, humane book, gritty but wholehearted, and it offers an ultimately optimistic, progressive vision for the city of Belfast and the women who come from there, while never forgetting what has come before.

“Caldwell is not a writer who cultivates bleakness for its own sake, and the tone that ultimately prevails throughout Multitudes is one of tentative defiance, of a kind of celebratory bittersweetness and a refusal to finally bow to adversity.

“Set almost entirely in Belfast, featuring a succession of young female protagonists, and ordered in rough accordance with the the narrators’ ages, the stories in Multitudes collectively work as a sort of … Read more