Thursday, 5 September 2013

Jon McGregor gives us one hundred and one percent!

When I wrote here last time that Jon McGregor was a busy man, I didn't know he would be judging the Davy Byrnes Short Story Award 2014 before the second postcard had arrived! But there you go...

He joins Yiyun Lee and Anne Enright to form an illustrious trio. Declan Meade of The Stinging Fly magazine has, as in previous years, attracted judges of high calibre.

As always with Jon McGregor, it is worth paying attention to his words. He tells The Stinging Fly about the kind of story that attracts him, one with intensity of purpose and clarity of expression that immediately puts him in the world of that story.

He could be talking about his own work. Take a look at the short story collection, "This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You". You will be drawn in immediately to a world slightly askew, underpinned with menace: a recognisable but shadowed reality. All this is depicted in lucid prose that strikes the heart like an ice-pick. I had to stop reading in the middle of several of the stories to get my emotional breath back. It is done with unshowy containment, great humanity, and plenty of cool humour. He successfully conveys a strong sense of place, so intrinsic to his writing, as he did in "So Many Ways to Begin" with Donegal.

So what does Jon say in postcard no.2 about his formula for success? 

"70% instinct and imagination, and 30% fact-checking later (plus 1% finger-crossing!)"

Extracts from this interview by post with Jon McGregor will continue when postcard no.3 arrives. A full version will appear in a forthcoming edition of North West Words Magazine. Many thanks to Jon for his generous cooperation.

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