Little Red and Other Stories
Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
Blackstaff Press 2020
Eleven brilliant stories await the reader and zero disappointment is guaranteed. This is a richly rewarding collection featuring characters appraising themselves, their relationships, their circumstances and their varying degrees of finding some kind of balance or sense in a shifting world.
As each story opens and gets into its stride, you just want to know more. You succumb to the wonderful writing and read on hoping the short in short story is not too short. In fact, all the stories are perfectly pitched and formed.
I don’t want to give the game away in each case, so I’ll be brief in my comments on several of the tales.
It is hard to pick a favourite but if my arm was twisted, I would say Nadia’s Cake, a tale of the unexpected, with a jolt of a plot shift. But I can’t really play favourites with this absorbing collection. There are ten other delights.
At the end of the first paragraph in Blocked comes the line: Blocked. My mother has blocked my number. It sets the scene for a tale of a mother and daughter relationship and all the ups and downs within.
Other stories hit you with the first line. Little Red opens with: A thing Fiona does is online dating. Whether you like it or not, you’re in.
Lemon Curd: I’ll cut the bollocks off your mother. Well, you can’t not read on.
As I Lay Dying tells of two sisters, eventually estranged in adult life, and the murder of a cat. Hmmm, you are pondering. The only way to find out what happened and why is to get hold of the book.
Little Red and Other Stories is both entertaining for readers and a masterclass for short story writers. Keeping the narratives tight but not restricting the need for vivid descriptions of time, place and characters is a talent to behold.
I attended an event at the 2019 Belfast Book Festival which featured Éilís Ní Dhuibhne talking about her amazing memoir Twelve Thousand Days, the first I had heard of her. Invest a little money and time in this magnificent story collection and the memoir. The investment will pay you back in literary gold.