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Editor’s note issue 9

The South Circular issue 9 March 2014 cover Dave Comiskey web detail

When I was just a child, a lonely boy
I held onto my dreams, like they could run from me
The hopes I harboured fled, as they often do
But I still dreamed of you
And now my dreams come true

– ‘Little Dreamer’, Future Islands*

THE SOUTH CIRCULAR and I will relocate to Toronto, Canada, in April this year. Know that this is a positive move, one of expectation, desire and, I think, courage. I am not throwing away, giving away or running away from any of what my home country and my adopted city of Dublin have provided me with.

Rather, know that I am taking it all with me. Whatever I’ve seen, heard or been told now travels to Toronto. Call me an envoy because I certainly consider myself a messenger of sorts. How could I resist telling Toronto everything of what I know in Ireland, when that is so good? And how can Toronto fail to impress upon me some of what I hope to find, and more of what I never knew possible? The transaction will go both ways.

Dublin has risen above its boom and has met its bust face-on, like the heroine it surely knows itself to be. Dublin is self-involved and dying to please. She is now the same and unrecognizable, still checking herself out in shop windows, and still spotting something inside and going right in, to see what all the craic is about. This culture of canny competition and coaxing has forced me to positively realize a potential for expression I have always assumed would give me a life less ordinary.

So, in these final weeks, while preparing issue 9 of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR, dilatorily packing boxes, pinning lists to lists, ‘reaching out’ to strangers and gathering ever closer my people, I am distracted by the effect that belonging has on one’s sense of self. And the stories we have chosen for issue 9, by Gila Green, Mary McGill, Mary O’Donoghue and Warwick Sprawson, address this universal concern: what happens when you drop out, resist the new order or just can’t connect any longer?

Dave Comiskey‘s cover has a gorgeous delicacy while at the same time being robust and utterly present. Of it he has said: ‘I started this cover by drawing objects that I thought might potentially play an important part in an imagined story, things that a plot could hinge on.’

These separate elements then, belong in the ninth issue of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR, for as many reasons as there are people reading this. Somehow, our quarterly digital journal of short stories is still one of a kind but it also belongs here, for the time being. Just where here is exactly, is happily, necessarily in a state of flux.


Aoife Walsh





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Editor’s note issue 3

Issue 3

The party’s over. Let’s take half a day to pack away her Pimms, that Wilson Phillips single, his long denim shorts, the pop-up tent and my hand-sanitizer for another nine months. With the seasons’ handover already upon us, these quiet and orderly September evenings find me in a welcome lull, not waiting, not wanting, just seeing the city of Dublin bathed in oblique amber sunshine.

I hope you had a good summer. For me the satisfaction of a day well lazed near a scuffy beach or a move well busted in a field among friends proportionally bends my attention towards that most ancient of human pursuits: work and its consequences. These days are the calm before the slog, of simply doing, while I await the active pursuit of ideas, collaborations and new projects.

It’s a sort of ‘moving on’, an acknowledgment of the way we were and a shedding of a reckless innocence gently stashed away until later. I put a label on that pleasure and I wait for the next. Then, I will work and pursue deals and ideas. In all of us, these weeks, there will be many quietly-made decisions to ‘produce something’ during the coming months, to make the best of the darkness and some-time isolation imposed upon us. Knowing we must try harder to connect, knowing we cannot, in fact, just sleep until spring, every September, every new term, every new collection, every new issue, every new release is a lonely and powerful decision.

In issue 3 we bring you stories by four emerging writers, Colm Brennan, Donna McCabe, Oisín McKenna and Nathan O’Donnell. Stories which give us a glimpse of the party and all its debris. The specially-commissioned cover by Sarah Bodil came in soon after the last fling of this Irish summer, Electric Picnic, and was an instant mirror to our happily shattered selves.

The party’s over. It’s OK to lose yourself sometimes. While you’re there, take some moments to watch these tales rave against the crystal morning light.



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Mary Costello, The China Factory

We’ve just started reading Mary Costello’s The China Factory, recently longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. From the off, it’s clear who Costello’s influences are: Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, Colm Tóibín and maybe even Anne Enright. In fact, in her review of the collection, Enright said:

Like Alice Munro, Costello is not afraid of a good car accident, a cancer diagnosis, the arrival on the scene of a roaring madman.

Costello’s style is clipped, to say the least, and in this first collection she shows the knack for saying a life in one sentence. This is the kind of economic writing of which we’re a fan. The gaps and holes are left up to the reader to fill and the reader’s imagination is nearly king over the writer’s desire to tell how it is or how it went.

Congratulations are due to The Stinging Fly, the independent publisher based in Dublin and run by Declan  Meade, who published Costello’s collection. A few years ago The Stinging Fly published the first collection of an emerging story writer called Kevin Barry. Barry went on to publish a novel (City of Bohane; currently undergoing redressing as a graphic novel and a playscript) and a second collection of stories (Dark Lies the Island) with Jonathan Cape. Barry also went on to win the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2012. Here he explains how he did it.

Here’s wishing Mary Costello a similar trajectory.