Working, walking, swimming, reading and streaming have kept me sane over the last few months. And when that final pair converged, joy was unconfined. For my money, one of this summer's cultural hits was Little Fires Everywhere (Amazon Prime), Reese Witherspoon's adaptation of Celeste Ng's devastating portrait of motherhood.
The actress has great taste and her Hello Sunshine book club production company has developed some riveting reads, among them Big Little Lies, Wild and Gone Girl. Also slated for the Sunshine treatment are an old favourite, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine; and Where the Crawdads Sing, Delia Owens's lush, lyrical tale of the Marsh Girl. I came late to the latter and was utterly smitten. Check out the bestsellers list on this page if you need more persuading.
Following the successful virtual Cuirt International Festival of Literature in April, the Galway gang has teamed up with Dubray Books to launch The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes. Reviews for this novel can be filed under the heading 'rave'. Caoilinn will be interviewed by Kevin Barry online on Thursday, July 23 at 7pm. Full details and ticket booking at dubraybooks.ie
A lot of the statistics we hear these days are depressing, so it was heartening to learn that this year's RTE Short Story Competition attracted an astonishing 4,000 entries. Held annually to commemorate the writer Francis MacManus, this prestigious literary prize has served as an important launch pad for new voices. Last week I joined short story writer Danielle McLaughlin (herself a previous winner) and broadcaster and playwright Vincent Woods to start the process of shortlisting the stories to a final 10 which will be produced for radio and announced in early September. And I can promise, all manner of intriguing new voices await.
For those of you who missed Montrose boat, TU Dublin - Tallaght Campus and the Red Line Book Festival (which will run October 12-18) are inviting writers to enter their International Short Story Competition, which will be judged by bestselling author Rob Doyle. There's a prize of €500, entry is free and submissions are open until August 19. For more details go to redlinebookfestival.ie
Finally on the short story front, the longlist for the 14th Edge Hill University Prize was revealed on Thursday. An all-female list includes our own Nicole Flattery (Show Them a Good Time) and Lucy Sweeney Byrne for Paris Syndrome. Recognising excellence in a single-authored short story collection, it is worth £10,000 and the winner will be announced in November.