Random Acts of Optimism by Alison Wells publishes in September with independent Galway publishers, Wordsonthestreet. Random Acts of Optimism is Alison Wells’ debut short story collection and will be launched on 20th September at 6.30pm, Lexicon Library, Dun Laoghaire.
An eclectic mix of stories, Random Acts of Optimism has already received rave reviews from Billy O’ Callaghan, Alan McMonagle, Madeleine D’Arcy and Niamh Boyce. Alison Wells writes about headspace, creative resilience, self-belief and more over on her blog Head Above Water
[ About Random Acts of Optimism ]
Random Acts of Optimism consists of 15 stories revolving around the protagonist’s acts of optimism in the face of life challenges from the humdrum to touching, to the more sinister and dramatic: the age old story of the plumber who doesn’t show up, zest for life in the face of a cancer diagnosis or prejudice, an elderly couple ridding an island of inconvenient dinosaurs, an astronaut who finds meaning in a cup of tea and family on his return home.
These stories range from poignant to laugh out loud and are the result of the years of her Head above Water endeavour – Alison Wells’ blog depicting how we write alongside life and our own self-doubts. One of the stories was shortlisted for the Hennessy Award in 2009 and another shortlisted for the high profile Bridport Prize. The title story and first in Random Acts of Optimism was inspired by the starkly unusual and poignant situation in Alison Wells’ experience as a public librarian in sending out books and organising supplies from an empty locked down library for people ‘cocooning’ during the Covid 19 pandemic.
[ Reviews ]
“A genuinely marvellous collection. There’s a crystalline quality to the prose that at times dazzles and at others leaves you gasping for breath, but more than anything it’s the compulsive nature of the storytelling that will have readers unable to put this collection down. Alison Wells, a very fine writer and clearly one who has honed her craft to mastery, deserves a broad and enthusiastic audience. Random Acts of Optimism ought to do the trick.” – Billy O’Callaghan, author of Life Sentences
“There’s an incredibly sensual precision to Wells’ sentences – nobody writes like Alison Wells – her stories sizzle, she’s an unsentimental yet compassionate documenter of humanity, whose stories are never what you might expect. She has an unusual and imaginative approach, a wide range, and a canny wisdom. The tragic and comic are not just juxtaposed, they wrap around each other – Wells is a unique voice, and this collection is one to treasure. Fans of the work of Lorrie Moore and Lucia Berlin will love this collection.” – Niamh Boyce, Award Winning Author of The Herbalist and Her Kind
“Random Acts of Optimism by Alison Wells is a lively, highly imaginative and delightful collection of short fiction. This book contains a breath-taking range of subject matter and themes. A librarian and an elderly person form a bond during lockdown. There are ghosts. There are problems with plumbers. There are dinosaurs on the Isle of Wight. There is a story written from the point of view of a letter. There are stars, meringues, memories in jars, a spaceman. Most of all, there are people, trying to cope with life and all its travails. At times tender and thought-provoking, by turns humorous and bleak, this cornucopia of tales is truly a pleasure to read.” – Madeleine D’Arcy, Author of Waiting for the Bullet and Liberty Terrace
“Playful and poignant paeans to the uncertain and arbitrary times we live in, here are stories that read like shards of endurance, of defiance to the wax and wane of life. A courageous, inventive, and rewarding collection.” – Alan McMonagle, author of Ithaca and Laura Cassidy’s Walk of Fame
[ Bio ]
Alison Wells was born in London, raised in Kerry and lives in Bray, near Dublin with her husband and four children. A graduate of Communication Studies and Psychology, she is now an enthusiastic librarian. Alison has been awarded residencies at Cill Rialaig, Co. Kerry. Her literary short fiction has been Pushcart prize nominated and shortlisted for Hennessy New Irish Writing, Bridport, BBC Opening Lines and Bray Literary Festival. Writing has appeared in The Stinging Fly, The Lonely Crowd, Crannóg, UK National Flash Fiction anthologies Jawbreakers and Scraps and New Island/RTÉ Arena’s New Planet Cabaret. Eat! was highly commended in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair 2019. In 2020 she was a finalist with The Exhibit of Held Breaths. Her Head Above Water blog explores creativity and resilience.
X ~ @alisonwells