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The Guts of a Mackerel by Clare Reddaway, December 32 pages

 

“Who’s Bobby Sands?” she asked, as she laid the fish on the face of a smiling young man with long wavy hair. “And what’s a hunger strike?”

On a family holiday to her dad’s Irish homeland, Eve’s concerns about impressing local boy Liam are confronted by the stark reality of political and personal divisions during the Troubles. Former friends have turned into enemies, and this country of childhood memory is suddenly a lot less welcoming.

 

“Clare is a genius at opening doors into her stories, in this case through the eyes of an eager young girl whose world is about to become bigger and scarier than she ever imagined. Each detail is intricate and immediate. The overall impact is emotional and long-lasting. 
Everything a good story should be.”

- Sarah Hilary, best-selling author of the acclaimed D.I. Marnie Rome series

 

Extract:

 

Eve couldn’t believe that Dad didn’t notice the minute he walked in the door that everyone had gone mad. He got back at six. The twins were ricocheting off the walls. They were kicking a ball around the kitchen and were about to break something and launch Mum into her third rage of the afternoon. The rain had set in hard and none of them could go outside. Eve didn’t want to anyway and she bet Mum didn’t either, not after their morning walk. Eve thought about reading Honey or Just Seventeen but she couldn’t. They were too trivial after what she’d read in the newspaper. She didn’t care about mascara anymore, or how to individualise her jeans by sewing on applique patches. She was serious now, political.  She wondered whether, if she was in prison, she’d be brave enough to write a diary and secrete it in a body cavity. She wondered what body cavity Bobby Sands used. She decided that she’d start a diary in her notebook but Mum said she had to play monopoly as it was no good with just three. They’d played monopoly for hours and the Big Twin had won which made Eve teary which would not normally happen and which made the Big Twin give her a sticky hug, which she didn’t like. The twins were having a football break before their supper when Dad walked in.
Eve saw he’d smoothed down his hair. He looked tired. Mum took him out of the kitchen and Eve could hear them have a whispered conversation in the hall. 
Dad burst back into the kitchen.
“Right kiddos!” his voice was big and booming and Holiday Dad was back. “We’re going to the pub.”
Eve loved it when they went to pubs. They only ever went when they were here. She loved sitting outside in the gardens with the palm trees, so weird, it was like they were somewhere really hot when actually they weren’t at all. She liked eating crisps and Dad letting her have a sip of his Guinness. But on this visit everything was different. 
She looked at Mum. Mum had been in the village. Mum knew what had happened. But Mum was smiling and nodding. 
Perhaps it would be all right. 
 

Author Biography

Clare Reddaway is a Bath-based writer of short stories and plays. Her short stories have been widely published online (Barren Magazine, Fictive Dream, Fairlight Books, Storgy Magazine, Blue Nib) and in anthologies (Fairlight Book of Short Stories 2020, Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2020, Bath Short Story Anthology, Momaya Short Story Review). 

Last year she was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, having previously won and been shortlisted for many other national competitions. 

Her work is frequently broadcast on BBC Radio Bristol and local community radio stations, and she has had stories recorded by Tempest Productions for their Unbound podcast. 

Her plays have been staged across the UK. She is currently developing a play Flotsam with Theatre West, and a screenplay Whale Song with Screenology in Bristol. 

She runs regular live lit events in Bath (Story Fridays, Stories At The Farm, Festive Doorstep Stories). She often writes site-specific stories which she either performs on location (for instance at a derelict Georgian lido in Bath), or as story walks. 

She is currently compiling a short story collection and brooding on a potential novella. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University. 

The Guts of a Mackerel by Clare Reddaway

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