Last night, in a sold out show in the basement of The Social on Little Portland Street, I heard some of the most entrancing, delectable, rich, shocking and emotional stories I have come across in a long, long time. No, I’m not exaggerating. The feeling in the room was exciting, and in the darkness, you could close your eyes and taste the words, or at least I felt like I could. A brilliant curation of writers whose styles and rhythms contrasted and complemented one another. I feel inspired and eager to write some stories of my own.
Sophie Mackintosh started the night, weaving an alternate universe, so clearly described it doesn’t seem odd or fantastical, but like it might be reality instead. Julianne Pachico, your professor, imprisoned in Columbia, made me dream and broke my heart. Adam O’Riordan’s teenage narrator reminded me of home. Then Chibundu Onuzo lit up the room, tambourine in hand with a call and response song. Her story aside, she is a radiant human being. Chibundu’s story of identity and hair punctured the space with grace and elegance and fire. Tom Morris made me want to call my mother. His story was hilarious and a bit ridiculous and honest. We finished the evening in transit to Belfast with Lucy Caldwell on to Cyprus Avenue, who also, incidentally, or not, made me want to call my mom in a story about memory, family, home.
But these few words don’t do any of it justice.
The Faber editor who hosted the evening shared a reflection at the beginning of the night that has stuck with me, that short stories are how we live our lives, and novels are the fictional versions. My past when I think back on it, does feel like a novel, and memory smooths out the blips and inconsistencies, but when you are in the thick of living, it’s exactly what a short story is.
Thank you Sophie Mackintosh, Julianne Pachico, Adam O’Riordan, Chibundu Onuzo, Tom Morris, and Lucy Caldwell. I am grateful for last night and would love to buy each of you a pint or two or three.