Today dear readers I am reviewing The Guts Of A Mackerel (Published December 10th 2021) By Clare Reddaway. A big thank you to the publishers Fly On The Wall for sending me a copy to read and review, always appreciated.
The Guts Of A Mackerel
“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.
About The Author
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.
Fourteen year old Eve is excited to be back in Ireland on a family holiday. She can’t wait to see Liam again, a local boy she met last summer and spend every possible moment together on the beach talking about their dreams and future. However things do not exactly go to plan; and who is Bobby Sands?
I felt immersed in this short story, I could smell the sea, the fish and seaweed. Everywhere I looked the sliver scales of the mackerel dazzled me and I was hungry for more.
This short story took me back to my youth of the butterflies you would feel when seeing your crush again. The effort you put into your appearance and the excitement of the possibilities. I could smell the overpowering scent of Eve’s Charlie spray wafting off the page. It took me back to a time when wedge shoes and plum eye shadow were the fashion. Days that seemed so much more simpler than they do now. But of course that is the ignorance of youth isn’t it dear reader? We never fully understood what was actually happening in the world around us, being young and carefree. The news and politics were strangers to us. Ones we branded boring and ran away from.
This story has a strong theme of being proud of where you are from, for standing up for what you believe in and never giving up. Eve knows what she wants and fights for it. She wants to see Liam and is determined to prove to him that she does understand about Bobby Sands. She goes on a hunger strike to prove her point which leads to complications.
The trip is a turning point for Eve, a right of passage into adulthood. She begins to abandon her teen magazines and becomes a bit more serious and political. It is interesting to read, to watch her character develop over a short time.
I give The Guts Of A Mackerel By Clare Reddaway a Four out of Five paw rating.
Engaging and thought-provoking, you will be left ravenous, begging for more!
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