‘These sixteen stories follow a cast of characters destined to navigate a world that is by turns perplexing, intriguing, threatening, evoking a rich variety of people and situations’
– What to Put in a Suitcase
[ About the Book ]
What to Put in a Suitcase evokes a rich variety of people and situations: a suburban dinner party whose hosts harbour a troubling secret; a childhood prank in 1940s Dublin with tragic consequences that reverberate through the decades; the sinister challenge of walking along a deserted corridor; a family fleeing environmental disaster in Dublin of the near future; a passionate defence of personal space, even if only in the local café.
Engaged with both the minutiae of thought processes and the impulse to action, these stories grapple with the twists and turns of individual psychology and personal relationships. Wider themes of justice and the place of the individual in the political and social context of the modern world are never far from the surface, at times, when least expected, seasoned with a sly humour.
[ My Review ]
What to Put in a Suitcase by Liz McSkeane was just published October 5th with Turas Press and is described as ‘an intriguing and compelling collection.’ Having read Liz’s debut novel Canticle, which I found to be an extremely engrossing, fascinating and very educational read, I was intrigued to hear that Liz was publishing a collection of short stories.
Liz McSkeane is an award-winning fiction writer and poet who established Turas Press in 2017. Turas Press is an independent, Dublin-based, publishing house ‘dedicated to bringing contemporary poetry and literary fiction to Irish and international readers...to support writers of poetry and fiction in launching their work into the world, and to make innovative writing accessible to readers who are passionate about literature.‘
Like with any short story collection, What to Put in a Suitcase provides the reader with much food for thought. Each individual story conveys its own message, with Liz having her finger firmly on the pulse, perfectly capturing the zeitgeist of today’s society.
The opening story Regression Analysis immediately ramps up the tension as a female walks alone through a long dark corridor with a sense of foreboding when she discovers she is not alone. ‘Taking a deep, silent breath she looks full on his retreating back. At that moment, he turns quickly to face her. Their eyes lock‘. Her thoughts and fears are captured with a great clarity that is all too familiar to many women today.
In Exodus my heart stopped as the real possibility of what was happening registered with me. It could be described as dystopian or it could just as easily be described as our future.
‘No one knew for sure if the servers were down because of weather damage, sabotage or if the authorities had blocked them to limit the rumours and scaremongering spreading on social media. If panic reduction were the intention, the strategy had backfired, for the absence of hard information created a vacuum that people filled with their own fantasies of imagined catastrophes. And who was to say they were wrong?’
Liz McSkeane injects a real sense of authenticity into her writing, questioning our beliefs and psychological makeup. What would we do in any given situation?
Societal themes of homelessness (Samaritan), emigration (What to Put in a Suitcase) and the plight of immigrants (Her Story) are all very sensitively handled, with powerful images depicted, stimulating our minds and forcing us to consider our own personal views. Each of the sixteen stories resounds in its own way, delivering its own personal impression.
What to Put in a Suitcase is an impactful, modern collection of short stories that awaken the senses and asks the questions we sometimes choose to ignore. Nothing is wasted in the language used throughout. Many of the stories demonstrate the vulnerability of being human, examining our behaviour in different circumstances. Liz McSkeane understands our need for real connections, for interaction, for love, to be needed, to be heard and with her skilled pen she demonstrates these human traits with lucidity and wisdom.
[ Bio ]
Liz McSkeane is a writer and publisher who was born in Scotland and has lived in Ireland since 1981. She has four collections of poetry : In Flight (Lapwing, 1996), Snow at the Opera House (New Island, 2002), So Long, Calypso (Turas Press, 2017) and Learning to Tango (Turas Press, 2021).
Her first novel, Canticle is based on the life of the Spanish mystic poet John of the Cross and was published by Turas Press in 2018
Twitter ~ @EMcSkeane
Website ~ https://elizabethmcskeane.ie/
I’d not heard of this writer, so thanks for flagging up the collection – sounds interesting. x
She’s a very astute writer Janet. Thank you! x