The Writers’ Centre was jammed to the rafters for the launch of the latest issue of The Stinging Fly. Declan Meade talked about the transition to Tom Morris’s stewardship and introduced the issue’s featured poet, Dimitra Xidous, whose first collection Keeping Bees is being launched on Saturday. Her reading (“Oh–Oh–Oh-vum!” was memorable and witty. She’s one to watch – and listen to.
Nuala Ní Chonchúir spoke about being guest fiction editor for this issue. She talked about her love of flash fiction and the pleasure of reading so much strong work. She has an interest in the issue of gender balance, but even she was surprised and gratified that, despite reading the stories blind, she ended up with a perfect 50:50. In her honest and straightforward way she mentioned the difficulty of rejecting stories written by people she knows, but she had to choose the stories that spoke to her most clearly. This is a common problem in Ireland, so small that we may as well all be related by blood (we’d probably find out that we are, if anyone took the trouble to investigate). She talked about the joy and excitement of discovering a fantastic story by a brand new young writer – David Mellerick Lynch, one of the readers for the night.
He read “The Lunar Deep”, a wise and imaginative story about the deterioration of a father; Alison Wells read “Eat!” a suggestive, surreal story about food; Patrick Chapman read his striking, disturbing “Eel”.
June Caldwell said ‘you should never do this’ before explaining the background to her electrifying “Cadaverus”. Her explanation meant that the audience got the benefit of two stories for the price of one. Talking about the death of her brother, she had us ricochet from shock to hilarity, and when we were well and truly rattled she read her dark, funny and deeply unsettling story. This is a strong issue from the Stinging Fly. They don’t have many copies left, so buy one – or better still, take out a subscription – before they’re all gone.