published by Doire Press (September 2017)
Longlisted for the 2018 Edge Hill Prize
Shortlisted for the 2018 Saboteur Awards
The Irish Times: ‘The 16 stories are by turns gritty and moving. Creighton has a poet’s eye for imagery and a novelist’s understanding of the value of a good plot.’
Bernie McGill: ‘Kelly Creighton’s collection floored me: these are truthful, gritty, hard-hitting stories set largely in small-town post-crash wastelands, of jobless, loveless, aimless individuals whose collective pain will leave a taste in your mouth as acrid as last night’s stale beer and roll-ups. Distinctive, powerful and filled, at times, with an electric high-wire tension, they contain a lyricism that comes at you sideways and will knock the wind right out of you. If you like your prose with a bloodied lip, here it is, in all its gunmetal, late-night, bleary-eyed finery.’
The Irish Examiner: ‘Often dark and unsettling, excavating relationships that are in tatters, looking at patterns of behaviour that make for dysfunction and unhappiness…a wonderfully written collection about love, loss and cruelty.’
Jane Talbot: ‘Dark, witty and cleverly observed.’
Paul McVeigh: ‘Kelly Creighton is a fearless writer with an impressive range. Wide in scope but sharp on impact these stories give voice to characters other writers shy away from.’
Sharon Dempsey: ‘A compelling collection of stories. Dark and bleak at times with just the right lightness of touch to alleviate hopelessness.’
Claire Savage: ‘Kelly deftly draws the reader into the hearts of her characters’ lives. With a knack for observing and expertly describing the minutiae of life, Kelly documents a variety of wider societal issues through her words, personalising these in her stories, which pack a real punch as a result. It’s a compelling collection that you will read quickly – and then want to immediately read again, to savour the language and to reconsider the lives laid bare before you.’
Damian Smyth: ‘sophisticatedly nervy, bruised, moving, memorable short stories.’
ABOUT ‘BANK HOLIDAY HURRICANE’:
AN EXTRACT FROM ‘WE WAKE WHEN WE WAKE’:
We wake sore, wracked up on the sofa, watched by the bloodshot eye of TV standby. Morning elbows its way in and kicks up dust, reorients it on the face of the furniture. Outside the air is stale with what has passed: the imperceptible shuffle of one year into the next. Threatening rain is the whelk-coloured sky. Dead factories lie in wet cotton heaps. A while ago this town folded like paper, yet this is the place that holds us, and sometimes the prodding finger. The accusatory wag.
Sometimes it is something else altogether.
Signs of hopelessness are everywhere we can bear to look. There are no management, no operatives, no labourers or lackeys. Certainly no microwavable success. Machinists and cultivators have left since nothing is engineered or grown, apart from the children. We wake when we wake, roll out of bed, tie ourselves in knots. The kids are kept late for arriving late, but what is there to be timely for? No one stays indoors looking at four walls, at all they own and all they don’t. Souped-up Sky discs listen like ears. Roughcast cladding, crocodile cracking, Boston Terriers. People not born here come and don’t stay long. Nothing exists till we do. We call ourselves a community, watch out for each other. January to December, young and infirmed, all of our lives we have looked after our own. You can’t ask for much more than that.
Ian left his home and headed for town, his clothes pasted to him. He hardly felt the cold though his arms were bare, his t-shirt torn at the seams and splashed with blood. If Ian had been in his right frame of mind he would have noticed the by-passers in cars, the people coming home from night shift, and in taxis business folk heading to catch their morning flights, slowing their shared towrope to watch Ian. The cars like links of a platinum and pewter chain.
The pavement felt as though it was going forward with him. On his rubbery legs Ian walked, intoxicated by the nostalgia evoked in every square inch of his small town. He passed the park where he’d had his first proper fist-fight at twelve years of age, and then behind the park, in the alleyway, he’d lost his virginity to Cherith at sixteen. Then there was Foster’s, where he was headed, where he first laid eyes on Dominique.
That was a Friday night six months before. Ian had sat with his mates supping cheap ale. Once Dominique’s friend had left to go to the gents, Paddy shouted to her, Tell your mate to do one. You want a real man.
Dominique gave him a bitter look. I’ll not find one hanging round here that’s for certain! She sounded as angry as Ian had felt for months. He imagined she had the same ball of spite fizzing in her chest that he was always trying to choke back. Those black stones in the centre of her eyes held a mirror to him.
Paddy had chuckled to himself. I did ask for that, didn’t I? he said.
No, Ian told him. She’s a slabber.
Ian rattled the last coins in his jeans pocket, his round next. He looked across to the table to where she sat, a look on her face like she would quite happily punch him in the mouth. Her anger was magnetic. The guy rejoined her. Ian didn’t recognise either of them. He watched as the man hitched his hand to Dominque’s arm, she seemed to flinch ever so slightly yet she stared into his eyes as they spoke intensely and surreptitiously, making Ian feel as though he had no right to be in his own local with his lifelong mates, observing this intimate knot. Ian despised the look of the guy in his tight muscle-strained t-shirt, even though Ian had no right to feel resentful when he had Demi-Rose and their kids back at home.