Liam Murphy reviewed Joyride to Jupiter in yesterday's Munster Express:
'There was a time when people expected short stories to be like single theme short novellas, and then magazine fiction changed all that. Stories got shorter and often became like poems, vague like a fleeting image, a flash of emotion, a realisation without resolution. Collections of short stories seemed to be based on a theme or trope; infidelity, expectation, imperfection, loneliness, betrayal and the modern one of uncoupling couples.
Nuala O'Connor who used to be Nuala Ní Chonchúir until Penguin USA insisted on 'identity clarity' for Miss Emily - O'Connor's most successful novel. Her fourth novel will be out next year, and the collection, Joyride To Jupiter is her sixth collection of short stories, alongside four poetry books. I feel like writing Nuala Ní rather than Nuala O.
An Ovid quotation suggests a collection about the 'perjuries of lovers', but there is an 'occasional' feel about some of these stories. This book has been with me during the best summer ever and rarely was I disappointed. A few stories I had to reread to understand, but perhaps I was seduced by the language and the fresh, Irishness of her phrasing.
The title story, 'Joyride To Jupiter' surprised me and took me unawares. When I got to 'Futuretense', another story with a makeup or cosmetic theme, I went back and read both together, seeking a linking theme.
'SquidInky' about a tattooist was my favourite with its visual, descriptive style and a line "Spitting women and crowing hens will surely come to some bad ends", led into one of the loneliest passage in the story "My heart opens and closes like a mouth that wants to speak but can't form the words". Nuala O can form the words and can seesaw the human heart as in 'The Boy From Petropolis' and 'Napoli Abu'. Where the opening line is a catcher for a page turner "Fuck knows how I ended up agreeing to go to Naples with a spinster".
The shorter stories didn't satisfy me, but the last story 'Storks' caught the mood of a hidden past, a 'betrayal' that gets in the way of present happiness. The last page is as sensual a thrill as you could ask for "All will be well".'
Next Saturday I am reading with Alan McMonagle, moderated by Catherine Dunne, at the inaugural Bray Literary Festival. 2pm, Bray Town Hall. More about the fest here.
And on Culture Night, this Friday, the artist collective I am a member of, Group 8, has the opening of its annual exhibition. This one is called Majesty in the Minute. 6.30pm, Ballinasloe Library. More at our blog here.
I had a great time in Cork at the Short Story Festival last weekend but am way, way to busy to blog it, sadly. My new novel (novel #5!) has joyfully taken over my head and my life, and I have a ton of other projects and things I'm involved in too. Busy is good. Too busy can be a bit of a headwreck. Onward!