Story of the Month, September 2020

I dedicate the last of our 2020 lockdown series, and our last ever publication, to all those who have lost their lives and those bereaved in the Covid-19 pandemic. Follow the guidelines and stay well till all this is over. See you on the other side. (Ed.)

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

September 2020: As Long as it Takes by Susan Haigh

For Mireille, grief seems like an impossible dream.

Sue Haigh is a writer and Creative Writing tutor. She lives in North East Fife when she isn’t living in her cave house in France. Her work has been published in a number of journals and anthologies, including Northwords Now, New Writing Dundee, Mslexia, The Scottish Arts Trust anthology, Cadenza, Sunpenny Anthology, Dundee University Review of the Arts, The Short review and a number of academic journals.

As Long as it Takes was originally published in the Scottish Arts Trust Story Awards anthology (Scottish Arts Trust, 2019)

Story of the Month, August 2020

For the fourth in our summer lockdown series, a story of desperation. What could be more appropriate? And you know that light at the end of the tunnel? It's an oncoming train. Yes, it's being so cheerful that keeps us going. Ed.

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

August 2020: Unless He Is Born Again by David Butler

April. A figure is loitering in the vicinity of the bus station of a provincial town. He’s not the only stranger in the bus yard. There are strangers with almost every arrival and departure. There’s nothing about this man to suggest he’s a foreigner. But all the same, something in his aspect attracts suspicious looks.”

David Butler

David Butler’s third novel, City of Dis (New Island), was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, 2015. His second short story collection, Fugitive, is forthcoming from Arlen House.

Unless He Is Born Again was originally published in ‘No Greater Love’ by David Butler (Ward Wood, 2013)

New Yorker: “The Resident Poet” by Katherine Dunn

(May 4) The story in this week’s issue, “The Resident Poet,” is a previously unpublished piece by Katherine Dunn, who died in 2016 and was the author of, among other things, the best-selling 1989 novel “Geek Love,” which follows a family of self-described “freaks” who operate and perform for a travelling circus.

Deborah Treisman

I’d read “Geek Love” three times…

Naomi Huffman

A previously unpublished story by the late Katherine Dunn. It’s a road trip, starts in a car park in the night rain, we go places, the resident poet is excoriated, sordid things happen, ends back in the night car park with a reflection in glass. What’s not to like? (Ed.)

Caine Prize for African Writing 2020 – Short List

The Caine Prize for African Writing is one of the world’s major short story prizes. The prize is for a published short story, between 3,000 and 10,000 words, by an African writer.

Bookriot

Story of the Month, July 2020

For the next in our 2020 lockdown series, we revisit the joint-winner of our inaugural short story competition. Some of you may be running around without face or leg coverings for the allowed daily exercise but it's not compulsory, you know. Happily, we can still stay home and read short stories. (Ed)

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

July 2020: Dodie’s Gift by Vanessa Gebbie

Later, in The Tinners, they sit together in Dodie’s corner on sagging burgundy plush cushions. He has bought her a cider, he drinks beer from the bottle. They talk. Dodie is half listening, looking at the scratches through the varnish on the table…”

Vanessa Gebbie

Novelist, short story writer, poet, Vanessa Gebbie has won awards for both poetry and prose, including the Troubadour International Poetry Prize, a Bridport short story prize and a much-coveted Willesden Herald short story prize. Author of ten various books, her novel The Coward’s Tale (Bloomsbury) was a Financial Times novel of the year, and her debut poetry pamphlet was selected by the TLS as one of the best of its year. She is commissioning and contributing editor of Short Circuit, Guide to the Art of the Short Story, editions 1 and 2 (Salt). She teaches widely. www.vanessagebbie.com

The author of “Dodie’s Gift” cares about character. It is a beautiful piece about two people circling each other, wondering whether to make contact.

Zadie Smith (Judge’s report – Willesden short story prize 2006)

Dodie’s Gift was first published in Words from a Glass Bubble, Salt Publishing, 2008

Story of the Month, June 2020

In the second of our 2020 lockdown series, you are the writer. Have you ever missed a step on the stairs or turned back in fear? Have you ever given someone a piece of your mind? Are you an object of desire or the subject? Stay home. Ed.

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

June 2020: Imagine that this Page is Empty by Nick Holdstock

As Richard tends the first patient of the evening – a young woman with black eye make-up and an arm wound – he thinks of the pills, safe in their bottle, doubly safe in his jacket, safer still in his locker. The arm wound is self-inflicted. It is too precise.

Nick Holdstock is the author of The Casualties, a novel, and several books about China.

“Imagine that this Page is Empty” is from his collection, The False River (Unthank Books, 2019).

Story of the Month, May 2020

Looking for respite from the lockdown?

You’ve come to the right place.

Ed.

The Willesden Herald Short Story of the Month

May 2020: The Time Capsule by John O’Donoghue

“They all fell silent for a moment. I could see them trying to look into the future, to imagine themselves as adults, married maybe, perhaps with families of their own, working away in jobs like Uncle Tommy in the Post Office, or Auntie Lizzie in the nursing before she was married, or gone to England, like my mother and father, or even further afield.”

John O’Donoghue

John O’Donoghue is the author of Letter To Lord Rochester (Waterloo Press, 2004), The Beach Generation (Pighog Press, 2007), Brunch Poems (Waterloo Press, 2009), Sectioned: A Life Interrupted (John Murray, 2009), Fools & Mad (Waterloo Press, 2014), and The King From Over the Water (The Wild Geese Press, 2019). Sec­tioned was awarded Mind Book of the Year in 2010. His journalism, essays, and reviews have been published in The Observer, The Guardian, The Times Educational Supplement, The London Magazine, PN Review, Acumen, and Orbis. He lives in Brighton and teaches Creative Writing at the Brighton Writers’ Centre.

The Time Capsule comes from The King from Over The Water (The Wild Geese Press, 2019).

New Yorker Fiction: A rare prose poem

In a change from the usual New Yorker long short story genre, the 20 April 2020 issue features a self-described prose poem by Ben Lerner. It’s a marvellous jumble of words and thoughts in search of something.
Want to know more after reading “The Media”? Here you go…

The last of “New Irish Writing”?

Terrible news but surely a new sponsor will come forward? Guinness? RTÉ? Gov.ie?

The New Yorker: Out There by Kate Folk

“The early blots had been easy to identify. They were too handsome, for one thing.” (Out There by Kate Folk)

This is a story about indistinguishably lifelike robots released by criminals to lure people into relationships on dating apps and in real life, in order to gain access to their credit cards and bank accounts. Or is it? It has a very dry line of wit just below the surface and a lot about not knowing whether someone is real sounds suspiciously like normal life for a woman of a certain age looking for love. There’s a lot more to it than that. It’s terrifically enjoyable in a grim, somewhat hopeless way.

“Kate Folk is a Wallace Stegner Fellow in fiction at Stanford University.” (The New Yorker)