A short story is short. Is that it? The heart of the matter? Even short can be relative, many of Kafka’s stories and some of his finest, are no more than a few paragraphs, one paragraph in some instances. Others, He by Katherine Anne Porter to give just one example, can be as long as a novella. To my mind, the essence of a good short story, the thing that makes it stand alone, complete, true to its own tale and the form itself, is – acuity. A great short story captures a moment, or a series of moments, it presents the broadest picture possible in the briefest time allowed. It is acute.
Nothing huge has to happen. Very little happens at all in Chekov’s rarest gems, or in Raymond Carver’s vignettes of smalltown America or for that matter in our own Frank O’Connor’s seemingly simple homilies. A man eats gooseberries with his brother and his life changes, a bereaved couple mourn the death of their young son over a loaf of freshly baked bread with their local baker, a boy takes his first sip of guinness in a pub with his father. In James Joyce’s The Dead, in what is arguably the finest end to any short story, a woman watches snow drift across a graveyard late at night and in that moment, we have her entire life, and the life she hasn’t lived and her profound sense of loss.
So, it can be any moment, happening to anyone, anywhere, but captured by the writer, briefly, perfectly, so that the moment endures and takes on a life of its own. A universal life.
There are many fine stories in this new Fish Anthology. Some small and intimate, no less for that, some reaching out through the personal for a wider, more universal perspective. What they share in common though, is one person, the writer, wishing to tell a story – grand, simple, complex or everyday – and by turn, wishing to engage you the reader. And to this end, they must employ skills, it’s not a letter and they don’t know you. There isn’t time for the meanderings of a novel, there isn’t time to give you background information on every character or location. There is only time to quickly slip into your mind and hopefully leave an impression there. To this end, the writer must pitch at an acute level and sustain that pitch through to the very end. Paradoxically, this can be achieved through moments of high drama or moments of absolute stillness. Either way, the object is to engage you, to bring you on a journey with them.
For the majority in this volume, it’s their first time out on such a journey. For the select few – check names well – it won’t be their last. – Kate O’Riordan
Asylum 1928 – Maureen E. O’Neill
Read this story in Short Stories to Read Online
Dregs – Sylvia G. Pearson
The Light of the World – Robert Marsden
Taking Flight – D. K. Reinders
Helping Hands – David N. Martin
Friday Afternoons – Alison Grove
Free House – Michael Clifford
Moving – Nicole Louise Reid
Zimbabwe Boy – Rory Kilalea
The Lying Down State of Sabir – Catherine Pippett
Eurydice – Cathy Whitfield
To Kill a Wish – Bill Allerton
As Red As – Matthew Weait
Beyond Repair – Valerie Dabbs
Macaroni – Keith Carlton
Victoria and her Kimono – M SHANmughalingam
In the Kingdom of Silence – Leo Bartholomew
The Play Boy of Dublin City – Jean Harrison
Fear of Blood – M. L. Hassell
The practitioners of the art of brevity and super-brevity whose work is in this book have mastered the skills and distilled and double-distilled their work like the finest whiskey.More
€12 (incl. p&p) Sunrise Sunset by Tina Pisco Surreal, sad, zany, funny, Tina Pisco’s stories are drawn from gritty experience as much as the swirling clouds of the imagination. An astute, empathetic, sometimes savage observer, she brings her characters to life. They dance themselves onto the pages, and waltz around your mind long after […]More
How do we transform personal experience of pain into literature? How do we create and then chisel away at those images of others, of loss, of suffering, of unspeakable helplessness so that they become works of art that aim for a shared humanity? The pieces selected here seem to prompt all these questions and the best of them offer some great answers.
– Carmen Bugan.
What a high standard all round – of craft, imagination and originality: and what a wide range of feeling and vision.
I was struck by how funny many of the stories are, several of them joyously so – they are madcap and eccentric and great fun. Others – despite restrained and elegant prose – managed to be devastating. All of them are the work of writers with talent.
The writing comes first, the bottom line comes last. And sandwiched between is an eye for the innovative, the inventive and the extraordinary.More
A new collection from around the globe: innovative, exciting, invigorating work from the writers and poets who will be making waves for some time to come. David Mitchell, Michael Collins, David Shields and Billy Collins selected the stories, flash fiction, memoirs and poems in this anthology.More
Reading the one page stories I was a little dazzled, and disappointed that I couldn’t give the prize to everybody. It’s such a tight format, every word must count, every punctuation mark. ‘The Long Wet Grass’ is a masterly bit of story telling … I still can’t get it out of my mind.
– Chris Stewart
The perfectly achieved story transcends the limitations of space with profundity and insight. What I look for in fiction, of whatever length, is authenticity and intensity of feeling. I demand to be moved, to be transported, to be introduced into other lives. The stories I have selected for this anthology have managed this. – Ronan Bennett, Short Story Judge.More
I sing those who are published here – they have done a very fine job. It is difficult to create from dust, which is what writers do. It is an honour to have read your work. – Colum McCannMore
The entries into this year’s Fish Short Story Prize were universally strong. From these the judges have selected winners, we believe, of exceptional virtue. – Carlo GeblerMore
I was amazed and delighted at the range and quality of these stories. Every one of them was interesting, well-written, beautifully crafted and, as a short-story must, every one of them focused my attention on that very curtailed tableau which a short-story necessarily sets before us. – Michael CollinsMore
These stories voice all that is vibrant about the form. – Gerard Donovan. Very short stories pack a poetic punch. Each of these holds its own surprise, or two. Dive into these seemingly small worlds. You’ll come up anew. – Angela Jane FountasMore
Each of the pieces here has been chosen for its excellence. They are a delightfully varied assortment. More than usual for an anthology, this is a compendium of all the different ways that fiction can succeed. I invite you to turn to ‘All the King’s Horses’. The past is here. Begin.
– Michel Faber
Literary anthologies, especially of new work, act as a kind of indicator to a society’s concerns. This Short Story collection, such a sharp and useful enterprise, goes beyond that. Its internationality demonstrates how our concerns are held in common across the globe. – Frank DelaneyMore
From the daily routine of a career in ‘Spoonface’, to the powerful, recurring image of a freezer in ‘Shadow Lives’. It was the remarkable focus on the ordinary that made these Fish short stories such a pleasure to read. – Hugo HamiltonMore
In a world where twenty screens of bullshit seem to be revolving without respite … there is nothing that can surpass the ‘explosion of art’ and its obstinate insistence on making sense of things. These dedicated scribes, as though some secret society, heroically, humbly, are espousing a noble cause.
– Pat McCabe
It’s supposed to be a short form, the good story, but it has about it a largeness I love. There is something to admire in all these tales, these strange, insistent invention. They take place in a rich and satisfying mixture of places, countries of the mind and heart. – Christopher HopeMore
There are fine stories in this new anthology, some small and intimate, some reaching out through the personal for a wider, more universal perspective, wishing to tell a story – grand, simple, complex or everyday, wishing to engage you the reader. – Kate O’RiodanMore
I feel like issuing a health warning with this Fish Anthology these stories may seriously damage your outlook – Here the writers view the world in their unique way, and have the imagination, talent, and the courage to refine it into that most surprising of all art forms the short story. – Clem Cairns.More
Every story in this book makes its own original way in the world. knowing which are the telling moments, and showing them to us. And as the narrator of the winning story casually remarks, ‘Sometimes its the small things that amaze me’ – Molly McCloskeyMore
The stories here possess the difference, the quirkiness and the spark. They follow their own road and their own ideas their own way. It is a valuable quality which makes this collection a varied one. Read it, I hope you say to yourself like I did on many occasions, ‘That’s deadly. How did they think of that?’ – Eamonn SweeneyMore
Really good short stories like these, don’t read like they were written. They read like they simply grew on the page. – Joseph O’ConnorMore
The writers in this collection can write short stories . . . their quality is the only thing they have in common. – Roddy DoyleMore
This is the first volume of short stories from Ireland’s newest publishing house. We are proud that fish has enabled 15 budding new writers be published in this anthology, and I look forward to seeing many of them in print again.More
12 Miles Out was selected by David Mitchell as the winner of the Fish Unpublished Novel Award.
A love story, thriller and historical novel; funny and sad, uplifting and enlightening.
You only know who you can’t trust. You can’t trust the law, because there’s none in New Ireland. You can’t trust the Church, because they think they’re the law. And you can’t trust the State, because they think they’re the Church And most of all, you can’t trust your friends, because you can’t remember who they were anymore.More
A memoir of urban life, chronicled through its central character, Mackey. From momentary reflections to stories about his break with childhood and adolescence, the early introduction to the Big World, the discovery of romance and then love, the powerlessness of ordinary people, the weaknesses that end in disappointment and the strengths that help them seek redemption and belonging.More
Ian Wild’s stories mix Monty Python with Hammer Horror, and the Beatles with Shakespeare, but his anarchic style and sense of humour remain very much his own in this collection of tall tales from another planet. Where else would you find vengeful organs, the inside story of Eleanor Rigby, mobile moustaches, and Vikings looting a Cork City branch of Abracababra?More