James Claffey’s debut collection of short fiction, Blood a Cold Blue, encompasses his Irish roots in Dublin and his present life on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria.
Claffey draws on the natural world around him for inspiration, whether it’s in the red earth of New Mexico or the paved streets of his suburban Dublin childhood.
He will celebrate his book launch from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Curious Cup Bookstore in Carpinteria. There, he will read from the book and also sign copies.
Claffey’s eye for detail infuses his writing with a depth and texture that turns prose into painting, and creates stark, surreal narratives filled with snakes, hawks, owls and. in some instances. even tapeworms. Living on an avocado ranch, surrounded by trees, visited by coyotes, bears and other animals, his writing is informed by the landscape of coastal California as much as it is by the churches, houses and citizens of Dublin.
Many people in the literary community are eagerly anticipating the arrival of this story collection, including Connotation Press editor Meg Tuite. Of the book she says, “Blood a Cold Blue is fueled by a masterful writer; powerful, unforgettable and mesmerizing.”
Ronlyn Domingue, author of The Map Maker’s War and The Mercy of Thin Air, is also looking forward to the book’s release. She says Blood a Cold Blue “spans the distance of continents and the gulf between memories. At times beautifully surreal then painfully stark, his stories reach into those parts of us that long to be gathered and made whole again.”
But even people outside of literary circles will find Claffey’s stories engaging. They are filled with characters struggling with the terrible beauty of living in complicated times, trying all the while to navigate the choppy waters of love, loss and despair. The stories in Blood a Cold Blue combine stark Irish reality and gorgeous poetic surrealism in short, tight mini-narratives that display beautiful imagery. Many have already been published in various literary magazines, and are, according to Chicago writer Ben Tanzer, “infused with ... rhythm and rot, doing things with words that I've never seen before.”
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