Monday, 17 October 2016

New discoveries in short fiction: Stephen O'Connor

As I've said in a previous post, reading short fiction is a great way to discover new writers, but it's not often that I find something that goes straight to my sweet spot.  Lately I've taken to reading back issues of Conjunctions magazine (if this publication actually defines itself as a 'magazine' as in reality it's a pretty hefty paperback book running to 400 odd pages).  The good folk at Conjunctions appear to favour a type of short fiction that greatly appeals to me (let's call it literary weirdness for want of a better title).  In one issue I came across a story about a boy with an over-sized head called 'The Man in the Moon' by Stephen O'Connor.  I enjoyed this story so much (just the right balance of pathos, humour and weirdness) I picked up O'Connor's collection, Here Comes Another Lesson, a book of stories populated by outsiders, the lonely and the lost.   I was also surprised and delighted to discover that this writer and I had shared a TOC in the book Ghosts: Revenge from JWK Publishing (atleast I'm assuming it's the same Stephen O'Connor).  Being published in a book alongside another writer you admire is a huge thrill for saddo's like me.

The story that really sealed the deal for me though - not found in O'Connor's collection - was 'Next To Nothing' (from Conjunctions #60).  'Next To Nothing' is the tale of two sisters whose intelligence and pragmatism makes them outsiders in their own community.  When a Hurricane approaches, this pragmatic attitude to life is put to the test.  Highly recommended.

If you like reading about outsiders and the ostracised, I recommend reading some of O'Connor's work. Next To Nothing' can be found on the author's website here.