Carrying Fire and Water
Short stories by Deirdre Shanahan
A beloved child is lost: taken too soon or never born. A woman bereaved and a man distraught are pulled apart, isolated, abandoned to search for intimacy elsewhere. A heartfelt bond is broken: a romance collapses under conflicting desires, a marriage cannot bear the burden of the unsaid. Lives dissolve, identities wither, and yet, amidst it all, there are glimmers of grace: compassion, renewal, second chances, serenity.
The stories of Deirdre Shanahan leave splinters in the conscience. In sharp, unsparing prose, and through poetic elision and insinuation, they stalk the lives of characters bewildered by moral crisis. From hospital wards to convents, from rundown farms to forests, from America to Ireland, England, Turkey, and Japan, Shanahan casts an eye over the lost souls of our world: men and women uprooted, unsettled, aimless and adrift, hungering for a way to feel less alone.
Deirdre Shanahan is a novelist and writer of short fiction. Her short stories have appeared in The Best of British Stories 2017 and won the Wasafiri International Fiction Award in 2018. Her début novel, Caravan of the Lost and Left Behind, was published by Bluemoose Books in 2019. She lives in London.
Read stories from Carrying Fire and Water:
Read Deirdre Shanahan’s selection of favourite stories at A Personal Anthology.
Read Deirdre Shanahan’s remarks on the process of writing short stories at writing.ie.
Praise for Carrying Fire and Water
Stories beautifully told in image-rich, powerfully descriptive language and an elegiac tone.Brian Maye
The Irish Times
Carrying Fire and Water truly captures the essence of short story writing. Each tale is created with magnificent specificity. Shanahan skilfully enables the reader to feel as if they are an observer, a bystander in the scene, through her rich language and poignant prose.Laura Jones
The Publishing Post
Both punchy and delicate, Shanahan’s stunningly intricate writing pulls us fast and deep into stories driven by the powerful undertow of human longing.Ruby Cowling
author of This Paradise
A beautiful début. Timeless, vivid, and sensory, these stories make us feel like we’re actually there. Shanahan has a gift for detail that makes her characters breathe.Angela Readman
author of Something Like Breathing
Carrying Fire And Water is beautifully forged: the prose is precise and evocative, the stories full of elegance and insight. Deirdre Shanahan is a fine writer with a deep dedication to the craft, deserving of a wide and enthusiastic readership.Billy O’Callaghan
author of My Coney Island Baby and The Boatman and Other Stories
Elemental, achingly honest, and delicately rendered: Carrying Fire and Water is a collection of beautifully observed moments, connections and possibilities that bring into sharp relief things we’ve had and lost, things we think we have, things we will never have, things we give up, and — most importantly of all — things that may just have it within them to help us renew, to replenish ourselves. It is wonderful.Alan McMonagle
author of Ithaca and Laura Cassidy’s Walk of Fame
Shanahan explores her collection’s overarching themes of loss, absence and longing with a perceptive delicacy. This is a quietly understated, introspective collection, marked by a wistful, yearning tone and written with a spare elegance.Susan Osborne
A Life in Books
These stories convey in rich and evocative prose how solitary life can be, whatever one’s situation. Shanahan writes with piercing insight in language that may be savoured.Jackie Law
This is a collection with a wide scope and an overall air of melancholy…Rebecca Foster
author of Sweet Home