“And there the dog was… gone.”
punchline to a joke I can’t remember by George Brennan of Co. Cork
Back writing after several detours. When last here, I was awaiting word on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. That morphed into the high holy days gig madness of March 17 and teaching courses for Broome Community College.
What followed suddenly was unspeakable sorrow. On April 3, shots rang out at the American Civic Association — the center of our ethnically rich community in Binghamton. Fourteen dead in the blink of an eye. A couple days after the tragedy, I re-read “The Cyber Miracles” and was struck by how often I mentioned Binghamton’s ethnic diversity. Ever since my childhood, it has had a profound influence on me and given me wonderful access to the cultures that make this world so fascinating.
Several years ago I taught Irish language courses at the center. Our dance group, An Fáinne Bán, performed there on many occasions. Three weeks before the shootings, I’d taught an Irish cooking class there. Although I did not know any of the victims, the experience chilled me to the core.
I admit to being a bit disheartened that my new novel, “The Terminal Diner,” was rejected for the ABNA contest at the pitch level. How frustrating, just as with pitching “The Cyber Miracles” to publishers, no one read a word of the novel itself. In retrospect, perhaps this rejection was a godsend. There are certain story lines in the new novel that cast a darker view of Binghamton. The timing, for right now, isn’t the best. As my friend Ty used to say, I’m going to let this book “marinate” for a while and then come back for a fresh look. For now, it’s back to complete “TCM’s” sequel.
The ABNA contest introduced me to a community of writers around the world. One I met should be of particular interest to “Cyber Miracle” readers (and not just because he’s from Fergal’s hometown in County Clare). Eddie Stack weaves wonderful stories of the West of Ireland with characters and settings so vivid and rich, they’ll linger in your mind like peat smoke over Casla Bay. He’s currently on Amazon’s Kindle Irish bestsellers list (No. 3). Along with Clare fiddler Martin Hayes and guitarist Dennis Cahill (just listed by the Irish Times as one of the 50 best music acts right now), Stack recorded four of his best short stories. One listen to his mellifluous voice and you’re transported back to a cottage in the West, sitting by a turf fire as the seanchai Stack spins his artful tales. Spellbinding!
Stack’s writing and a recent re-read of Flannery O’Connor “Complete Stories” (just reviewed Brad Gooch’s new bio of her at George F. Johnson Memorial Library), have inspired me to get cracking on some short stories that have been bouncing around my assorted notepads for years now.
Looks like there’s a lot of writing ahead…