I may have been too busy to post about the Short Story Challenge in the last month or so, but rest assured I have been reading a story a day. Between Thursday 11th November and Thursday 16th December I read the following:

Day 269-287

Nude – Nuala Ní Chonchúir

It took a few stories for me to find my feet with this collection and while there were some stories that failed to reach me for various reasons, this collection also contains a number of really wonderful short fictions that I must recommend. Stand out stories for me include ‘Sloe Wine,’ ‘Cowboy and Kelly,’ ‘Before Losing the Valise,’ ‘An Amarna Princess Up North,’ ‘As I Look,’ ‘To Drift and To Lift,’ and my favourite, ‘Roy Licthenstein’s Nudes In A Mirror’ – which I selected as one of my story recommendations for National Short Story Week. It’s too much to expect to like every story in a collection. What I enjoyed about this one was that it continued to challenge and surprise me as I progressed through the stories. And the stories I ended up liking, I really really like.

Day 288-290

A bunch of stories from all over the place. Alex Burrett’s surreal tale of a snake in a cafe, ‘Eggs and Omelettes’ and Tania Hershman’s short but sweet ‘Drizzling,’ are available on the Ether Books app and are well worth downloading. Also finally got round to reading the winning story from the 2010 Bristol Prize. ‘Mum’s the word,’ is as perfect a piece of flash fiction as you will find. Valerie O’Riordan’s story is a powerful and emotive piece, the impact of the writing far outweighing its slim word count.

Day 291-304

Willesden Herald: New Short Stories 4 – Various.

I bought this collection of shortlisted stories for the 2009/2010 Willesden Herald short story competition a while back and decided late November/early December was a good time to read it as I prepared my entry for this year’s Willesden Herald short story competition. There are stories in here by some wonderful writers, Wena Poon, Tom Vowler and Peggy Riley to name three I particularly liked. My favourite story would be a knock down drag out fight between, Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s ‘Letters’ and Jared McGinnis’s heartbreaking ‘Learning Stick.’ A great collection and a useful one in that it shows the level of quality needed in order to compete in this competition. Here’s hoping my entry for the 2010/2011 competition is up to scratch.