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

‘Everything you write requires a portion of your soul, I think, to make it live’

Lucy Caldwell, whose collection Multitudes was published yesterday, opens up about it and her adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters to fellow Belfast writer Paul McVeigh

(from The Irish Times)
Lucy_Caldwell_portraitWere you always going to be a writer?
It seems so – I wrote my first “novel”, “the robin’s party”, when I was 4½. My Mum says that before I could even write I would ask her to fold pages up to look like books, and tell her what words I wanted in them. I made a programme recently about the Brontë siblings – who were half-Irish, as people often forget – and was digging around in my parents’ attic in search of my own “juvenilia” (not to glorify it with such a word!) and I found boxes and boxes of the “books” and “magazines” I used to make for my sisters, thick chronicles of our imaginary worlds and the genealogies … Read more

Cyprus Avenue

cyprusOn April 1, BBC broadcast Cyprus Avenue, one of the stories from Lucy’s anthology Multitudes. The story was read by Laura Pyper and the programme was produced by Heather Larmour.

Cyprus Avenue tells of a chance meeting at the airport awaiting an increasingly-delayed flight sees a young couple discover they have childhood histories – and family tragedies – in common, growing up on the streets of East Belfast, experiences which have defined every aspect of their lives, not least their relationship to the city they once called home. But as they journey back to Belfast, to their families and to the reminders of the past, they slowly begin to look to the future.

‘Cyprus Avenue’ is included in Lucy’s forth-coming debut short story collection ‘Multitudes’ to be published by Faber on 5th May

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Granta 135: New Irish Writing

Granta New Irish WritingGranta 135 is a snapshot of contemporary Ireland, which shows where one of the world’s most distinguished and independent literary traditions is today. Here international stars rub shoulders with a new generation of talent from a country which keeps producing exceptional writers.

This issue features Lucy Caldwell imagining forbidden first love in Belfast; Kevin Barry on Cork, ‘as intimate and homicidal as a little Marseille’; an exclusive extract of Colm Tóibín’s next novel, about growing up in the shadow of a famous father; fiction from Emma Donaghue about Victorian Ireland’s miraculous fasting girls; and Sara Baume describing the wild allure and threat of the rural landscape.

Also featuring fiction from Colin Barrett, John Connell, Mary O’Donoghue, Roddy Doyle, Siobhán Mannion, Belinda McKeon, Sally Rooney, Donal Ryan and William Wall; poetry from Tara Bergin, Leontia Flynn and Stephen Sexton; photography by Doug DuBois, Stephen Dock and Birte Kaufmann; with original portraits … Read more