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Wednesday, 19 August 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping (40 years in retailing), the golden age of Hollywood (including westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, Black Bough, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. I wrote a book on retailing, on dealing with job losses and a biography of film star Stephen Boyd.

Currently running a series of (hopefully) funny poems from hundreds I've written over the years (inspired by the likes of Spike Milligan and Roger McGough) to provoke a smile in these odd times.

But, I can't let this book pass without an ovation.

Postcard Stories 2
Jan Carson
Illustrations by Benjamin Phillips
The Emma Press 2020

This book works on two levels for me. First, it is written beautifully, thoughtful, innovative and very entertaining. Second, it is (to me) a masterclass in finding the right first line(s) to hook the reader and give the inherent idea licence to go in whatever direction it chooses.  

A few examples:

Edinburgh: All the lonely artists have gathered in the basement for the spring mixer.

Derry: The girls are out for the day. They're wearing lipstick on a weekday.

Ulster Hall, Belfast: There was once a man who laminated his wife.

Bray: In the waiting room, two old men are discussing onions.

Ballymena: Every day at five, Margaret walked the hundred yards or so to the post box on the corner and posted a letter addressed to herself.

Madison, Wisconsin: 'Cut my hair like Jesus,' he says.

Brighton: The Mexican artist Frida Kahlo has come back from the dead to enjoy a midwinter break in the English seaside resort of Brighton.

See what I mean? It is impossible to resist the urge to read on. 58 stories in a beautifully designed package, with wonderful illustrations by Benjamin Phillips.

Ach, go on. This is a treat by a gifted storyteller. Do yourself a favour, writers, readers and both.

Here are a couple of background links.

My blog review of Postcard Stories (1)

Jan Carson’s guest post on this blog

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