Fish Anthology 2004 It’s fantastic to discover that so many people write short stories. There were over 2,000 entries to the Fish Short Story Prize this year. We notice that every year the standard goes up, and it is increasingly difficult to shortlist. Frequently, the difference is the ending. So many stories just fail to make the cut because the author has not dedicated the same care to the ending as they have to the rest of the story. Sometimes I think that there are more people writing short stories than reading them. There is a reluctance, in most publishing houses, to publish anthologies of short stories because of the lack of demand. A campaign is underway to revitalise short story reading. The British Arts Council is working hard to promote the short story, but more needs to be done in schools so that children feel reading short stories is something they do. Fish Publishing is dedicated to the short story and endeavours to make the anthology intriguing to young and old. We have increased the first prize for the 2004/5 Fish Short Story Prize to €10,000, and all the published authors next year will be financially rewarded. We hope the larger prize will give the winner a boost, and will attract attention to the prize and help to raise awareness of the short story form. We have introduced a Very Short Story Prize, and the best six from that competition appear in this book. Many who entered hadn’t written much before. Well done to those authors – 250 words is an exacting discipline. There were almost 1,500 entries, and there were many that could have made it into this book. Many of the stories that impressed had a twist in the last sentence, or had an unusual structure. All could create a character and a situation in a sentence. The opening sentence, vital in a short story, is crucial in a very short one. Of course, so is the last, and each one in between. In that sense they are as spare as poems. We were fascinated by them, and look forward to more next year. Look out too for the Fish Unpublished Novel Prize and in the bookshops for the subsequent publication of the winning novel. See www.fishpublishing.com for details. As for the stories in this book, they speak for themselves. Read them. If you want to read more from a particular author, get in touch with Fish and we will let the author know. Freda Churches won the Fish Short Story Prize of €2,500 with ‘Spoonface’, an utterly moving story of a mother and her invalided son. Freda was also one of the six winners of the Very Short Prize with ‘Juice Baby’. She is one of Scotland’s most promising new writers. Second prize of a week at Anam Cara Writers’ and Artists’ Retreat plus €250 went to Philip MacCann from Belfast for his story ‘Shadow Lives’, an atmospheric urban tale of love, hope, and desperation. The third prize of €250 went to Stephanie Dickinson from New York for ‘Fire Maidens, ‘57’, about two teenage girls escaping their lives on a Nevada Desert reservation into a nuclear test site. There are twelve other short stories in this book and each is worthy, interesting and individual – from the surrealism of ‘At the Water Cooler’ by Polly Clark, the inevitability in ‘Unbreakable’ by Tim Foley, the insights into old age in ‘Shirley Poppy’ by Val Lee, to the banality of evil in ‘Rain’ by Barry Troy. ‘Countdown to Ecstasy’, by Adrian Wistreich, one of the six very short gems, went straight to my heart. Brilliant. To all who entered the competitions, thank you. The shortlisted writers are listed at the back of this book, as are details of the Fish Prizes. We appreciated enormously the many calls and messages offering help and good wishes after the Fish offices were burnt to the ground on Valentine’s Night. Thank you.
Spoonface – Freda Churches Shadow Lives – Philip MacCann Fire Maidens ’57 – Stephanie Dickinson Countdown to Ecstasy – Adrian Wistreich Rain – Barry Troy At the Water Cooler – Polly Clark Juice Baby – Freda Churches The Silence of St. Pierre – Margaret Irish Unbreakable – Tim Foley The Visit – Karen Stevens Shirley Poppy – Val G. Lee Fat Abbey – Beth Williamson Dressed in Irony – Michael Levitt Breathing – Leone Ross The Charles River – Rohan Kar The Strawberry Man – 1973 – Thecla Condon Garden Game – Ruth M. Harris Man in a Wardrobe – Paul Blaney The Admiral – Ray Dolphin Aubergine – Selma Dabbagh The Logger – Susi Klare
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