Friday, April 1, 2016

Free and footloose reads: a wee list

For evenings curled fireside, or mornings abed - I recommend you reach for one of these. All freely available, all exquisitely special. [Installment two and three now also available]

Book, chocolate, bath - all is well with the world. (c) Ríona Judge McCormack

Short Stories
  • Foster, by Claire Keegan. If you have not read, read. If you have read, re-read. I cannot say this more urgently. Exquisite, sharp, timeless.
  • A Small, Good Thing, by Raymond Carver. Read Carver, they said. So I didn't. See me now, unprepared. Reeling.
  • Feeding the Lions, by Sara Brody. “Don’t worry about monsters,” Calvin said. “They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them.” “That’s a lie,” Lucy said. “Don’t lie to me.” Shocking, tender, masterful in the execution. 
  • Rest Day, by John Boyne. War, choices, and how we warm to our own captive horrors.
  • Farm's Yield, by Molia Dumbleton. Enters the heart and takes it - two-handed, gently, but takes it nonetheless.
  • The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind, by Billy O'Callaghan. Just unbearably beautifully wrought.
  • I Can See Right Through You, by Kelly Link. A story to read, then re-read anew, seeing more each time. Wry, sweet, thoroughly chilling.
  • Runaway, by Alice Munro. That needle in the chest, cold and sure. 
  • Chicxulub, by T C Boyle. Furious, rousing, like a bloody great punch to the heart.
  • The Human Phonograph, by Jonathan Tel. Stirring as a clear voice ringing, like washed-clean glass.
  • A Different Country, by Danielle McLaughlin. Unsentimental, blistering look at the strangers we are to each other.
  • Black Ice, by Cate Kennedy. Of tree-skins and small, sharpened teeth in a clean-mouthed cold.
  • Other People’s Daughters, by Melissa Howard. " if kittens have clawed out of their insides." Rough-skinned, tough-talking, velvet in the innards.
  • The Clothes They Stood Up In, by Alan Bennett. A classic (long) short story on losing, regaining, and quiet domestic rebellions.
  • The Ways, by Colin Barrett. The angerings and the keenly-knifed grief. The sheer, breathless, filthy poetry of it.
  • The School of English, by Hilary Mantel. For days, this story will not leave. Shake and shake it, but still it clings. Clammy-close, claws in deep.
  • The Bone Child, by Anne Corlett. Chilled raw, clay-damp, all a-bump with gooseflesh.
  • Safe, Somewhere, by Baird Harper. Yellow ash rain, scrub suits; the cutthroat, creeping nasty.
  • Ten Pint Ted, by Ian Wild. Bitter but bighearted; unlit miles of abandoned tunnels lying beneath ordinary lives. 
  • All The Boys, by Thomas Morris. Rough, compelling, dirtily human, and a little bruising.
  • Who Are You With? by Nick Fuller Googins. Emptied chalkboards, waste-flowers, family: what is left, after. Dazzling, winded stuff. 
  • Echo Lake, by Timur Jonathan Karaca. Intense, shocking, just about perfect.
  • Their Cruel Routines, by Barry Lee Thompson. "‘Let me tell you about memory,’ she said." Bitter, vicious, claustrophobically good.
  • Ballerinas Across the Andes, by Owen Booth. Meticulously ridiculous, the best of the absurd.
  • Ger Sheen and the Satanists, by David McGrath. Furiously alive, wildly farcical - glorious Irish whimsy at its height.
  • Rapport, by Dan Micklethwaite. "there. There they go. So close. So warm. Those— hands, reaching."
  • The Johns, by Josie Sigler. "It broke you both at once in different ways but only briefly."
  • The White Road, by Tania Hershman. Still and beautiful, still and haunting.
  • Spoiled, by Jaki McCarrick. Quietly done, unshowy, but each note - precisely - in place.

Winter reading toesies. (c) Ríona Judge McCormack

Flash fiction
  • Vincent in the Yellow House, by Nuala Ní Chonchúir. The voice, the low-key anguish, the colours. Faultless flash fiction. 
  • Pretty Dead Girl Takes a Break, by Helen McClory. Whet-sharp, sardonic, slyly absurd.
  • Scrawlbabies, by Rob Grim. Follows you, knocking on your door, long after you read it.
  • Parting, by Elizabeth Morton. "My mother cut towelling lengthwise, sawed the dining table on a diagonal." Sharp-toothed and wrenching. 
  • Ice House, by Jane Roberts. A tickling chill, feathery geese tripping lightly over your grave. 
  • Danny Came Home, by Alisha Karabinus. "... raw with days of standing stagnant in water that stank of war." Gutting, alliterative work.
  • The Moon is a Wasteland, by Daniel DiFranco. Playfully, lightly done - and yet more than a little devastating.
  • Nothing But Bone, by Olga Wojtas. "How exactly could someone by eaten by mice?" Indeed. Eerie, perfect. 
  • Bait, by Amy Sayre Baptista. Oh, the placing of the steps, the chill in the chest, the beats between.
Non Fiction
  • Listening to Grasshoppers, by Arundhati Roy. Every good armament in fiction is brought to bear here, to hollowing, harrowing effect.
  • The dark side of Dubai, by Johann Hari. Feature journalism at its best - a portrait of a city like no other.
  • The Detainee's Tale, by Ali Smith. This is why we write. This, the lacerating power of pen, eye. This. This. This. 
  • Dear Orderly, by Mary-Louise Parker. "Give me the baby/ Give me the baby it will be down the hall/ With other given babies." Devastatingly good memoir.
  • Voices from Chernobyl, by Svetlana Alexievich. Voices at your throat, eyes: wry, damaged, heroic on their own terms.

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