Shelf Life: Jan Carson - Children's Children

This was my travelling companion through the recent trips to Scotland and London. What a treat – these stories brimmed with a delightful cock-eyed surrealism and yet were also rooted in gritty reality, many of them set in east Belfast, with some really stunning turns of phrase here and there: ‘She worries constantly. The feel of it is a pain in her ribcage, as if worry is made of sand and the sand has gathered inside her and cannot be shifted while lying down’. And there was lots of humour, but the overwhelming mood was pretty dark, which really appealed to me. On many occasions I was reminded of the engaging, off-kilter world of Paul Durcan’s poetry. The characters - and their situations - really stayed with me, always a good sign.