Thursday, 30 April 2009

CARAVAN THIEVES - book recommendation

I was awake into the wee hours this morning reading Gerard Woodward's short story collection Caravan Thieves. I heard him read from it at Cúirt and chatted to him in a small group for an evening. He is a Man Booker nominated creative writing teacher at Bath University and has a quiet air about him, a subdued energy - you just know that there are great things going on in his mind.

Anyway, I was awake last night thinking there must be a better description for quirky short fiction, other than 'quirky'. What about 'quietly mad'? 'Off-the-wall' might do, or 'bizarre', but 'outré' is a bit poncy. I know Irish Times journalist Eileen Battersby has used the term 'tricksy' but she means it in a bad way, and I mean it in a good way.

I do often enjoy straightforward writing with conventional plots, but how I love the surreal, the quirky and the outré (!): writing that pushes at boundaries and has fun. And so it is with Caravan Thieves, though Gerard pulls off a double trick with these stories: they are ostensibly about supremely ordinary, regular people - caravanners, puppeteers, booksellers - but these characters' quiet, unremarkable lives are disturbed by strange and often unseen forces that defy rational explanation. Added to that the book is subversively, almost mutely, hilarious.

So if you like your stories weirdly wonderful and very well written, look no further than the quirky world of the Caravan Thieves.

I did actually intend to blog a little more about Cúirt this morning but I have gotten sidetracked and now I must continue on the good work of my 2nd set of proofs of Nude. They're looking good!


P Nolan said...

Sounds like a solid recommendation -another one for the list!


Indeed, PJ. It's hard not to be constantly buying books, isn't it? Between us, F and I bought a ton of books at Cúirt. Lots of lovely new reading material.