Monthly Archives: March 2012

An interview, a longlisting and a review in the TLS

Well, it has certainly been an interesting week or so. First, I was interviewed by Alison Wells for her blog on the website and we discussed the elements of a good short story and what I like about them. Second, my collection was longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize alongside books by the likes of Tessa Hadley, Edna O’Brien, Sarah Hall and my fellow Scott Prize winner Cassandra Parkin, whose ‘New World Fairy Tales‘ is a sexy and sassy reworking of some of the more famous Grimm fairytales. Then, to my huge surprise, I discovered my book had been reviewed in this week’s TLS by Ivan Juritz, who said some very nice things indeed – so thank you, Ivan Juritz whoever and wherever you are. Thank you for reading my book in the way I’d like it to be read. A good week indeed. And one to remember when the writing’s not going so well in the future. Weeks like this make it all worthwhile.

Update: I also neglected to mention that I’m reading in the ‘Pub Shorts’ event at York Literature Festival this Sunday (April 1st) – click the link at the side for more information.

Update number two: The book has also just now sneaked onto the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award longlist. Congrats to everyone on there.

The lives of mothers

I just noticed that The Guardian are running a series of podcasts featuring short stories about motherhood to mark Mother’s Day this Sunday (March 18). The first is Tessa Hadley reading Elizabeth Bowen’s story ‘Coming Home’ – a story I’m not familiar with myself but which I’m looking forward to listening to. This got me thinking about which one I’d choose should such a situation ever arise and the story that instantly sprung to mind was ‘Snow Angel’ by American writer Stephanie Vaughn. I first read this a couple of years ago after buying Vaughn’s collection ‘Able Baker Charlie Dog’ (the book has just been reissued under its alternative title of ‘Sweet Talk’ and is well worth getting hold of).

In the story we get a glimpse into the life of a young mother, Marguerite, who is at home with two noisy children while her husband becomes stranded after his car breaks down. As far as plot goes, nothing much happens. We just learn that Marguerite is hiding in the closet to get some peace and quiet, then that she takes a couple of phone calls from her husband and later that she plays games with her children. But, as with all the best short stories, these little events tell us so much about Marguerite’s life – her loneliness, her parental frustrations and also how invisible she feels as a human being. “If I had somebody to tell these things to, I think I could make them into good stories”, she says to herself, after her husband fails to ask how her day has gone. A sentiment which could well resonate with mothers everywhere.