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    by Julian Gough

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    Jude lives in a henhouse with no roof, that he bought for ten million euro, at the height of the Irish property bubble. One day, his mortgage is rated the debt in Europe most likely to default... The political and financial elite of Europe arrive, with a plan: help Jude put a roof on his henhouse, stabilize his debt, and reassure the markets. It all goes horribly wrong.

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    Jude: Level 1
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    Juno and Juliet
    by Julian Gough

    My first novel, of which I am very fond. The adventures of teenage twin sisters Juno & Juliet, in their first year away from home. Life, love and literature, in Galway and Tipperary.


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« Author returns, alive, from the Dromineer Literary Festival! | Main | Who Killed Tony Wilson? We Name The Guilty Men. »

Julian Gough in the Guardian, and at Small Wonder. (Busy week for the lazy lad.)

I wrote a piece in today's Guardian about the increasingly pervy relationship between the short story and the novel. Feel free to read it, comment on it, ignore it, as you wish.

Why was I writing about the short story, you ask, given that I know bugger all about it?

Because on Saturday, September 22nd, at 4.30pm, I'm reading at the Small Wonder festival with James Lasdun, last year's winner of the National Short Story Prize.

Allow me to plug it shamelessly, because it is run by good people, and the Guardian forgot to print the festival dates or website address at the bottom of my article... Small Wonder is the only festival devoted entirely to short stories, and it runs from 19-23 September, at Charleston near Firle, East Sussex (in England, which is part of Europe...)

Their website with all the info is *here*.

Lots of interesting writers will be there: Monica Ali, Lucy Ellmann, Esther Freud, Etgar Keret, James Lasdun, Yiyun Li, Jon Snow, Colm Tóibín, Fay Weldon...

My hot tip for Small Wonder (apart from me and James Lasdun) is Lucy Ellmann and Etgar Keret, 7.30pm on Thursday. Should kick literary ass.

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Reader Comments (12)

Good to see you've now made both Guardians.
September 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterKevin Holmes
You have some very interesting points there.

It makes me think in particular of Greg Egan, an Australian science fiction author I'd imagine you're familiar with. To my mind he's written some of the best short-form SF of all time, getting the "fun with fascinating ideas" impulse of the genre's youth working with the less innocent, downright harder science of our time. It's highly entertaining because it's intensely about ideas, and I can consume one of his short story collections whole.

Yet his novels I find pretty much unfinishable. It makes you wonder why. Even though they are full of great ideas, I don't find myself pulled in. It seems that there are specific skills required to make the long form work, probably involving more regular human drama stuff that he's simply not so interested in writing about. Characterization is, I would guess, the biggie.

And perhaps the more ideas you have, the stronger the containing frame needs to be. Your example of the Arabian Nights seems just right. I don't really remember any one of those stories, but the framing story is unforgettable. The plot: Girl must be brilliant forever or or else she dies. The characters: A beautiful, resourceful and creative woman. A vastly powerful, utterly brutal man - who really just wants a bedtime story. That's good shit.

And it has no ending. The entirely self-enclosed long forms, the novel or the feature-length film, are really more the product of technological logistics than of the inherent nature of storytelling.

Hmm. I could get totally carried away here. I just spent ten hours on an overnight train coming back from Krakow so I'm a little hyper. I guess what I'm saying is that not just the short story but the novel is endangered, as technology allows us to expect fiction on demand. The future is probably in open-ended forms that evolve out of soap opera. We see the start of it in potentially unending novel series such as Discworld or Maturin. Favorite flavors on tap.

The species I'd be more worried about in the long term is not a form of a certain length, but the whole idea of works of fiction created by a single person. Can't you just see Harry Potter turning into a franchise granted to chosen fanfic writers?

October 1, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRichard
I agree with a ton of what you're saying, Richard. (I was away in Ireland for a few days, so I'm late replying.) I was just reading an interesting debate on a similar theme, here:

Some interesting stuff on the evolution of television, and on open-ended versus closed stories...

You're right about the endangered species being the single-authored closed story. Even out here on the thin, weird, literary edge of the cultural galaxy, I can feel the pressure to move into television and film, two areas which for different reasons don't give writers the total control and freedom a novelist has. But they do, potentially, give the writer an immense audience and a wardrobe full of cash.

It doesn't help that my favourite cultural experiences lately are televisual rather than literary. (And I don't even have a television.) I'd far rather watch a Green Wing box set on my laptop than read this year's Booker shortlist...

No, that doesn't really get across how I feel about the modern, psychologically plausible, realist novel. That makes it sound like it might be close. Let me rephrase. I'd rather laboriously learn to fart the Swiss national anthem than read this year's Booker shortlist. (Except for Nicola Barker's Darkmans, which sounds like it could be good. But holy shit, it's long.)

In fact, now that I think about it, what the fuck am I doing writing novels? Most of them are shite, and nobody reads them. If you write a good one, nobody notices.

I quit.
October 4, 2007 | Registered CommenterJulian Gough
No! Don't quit! I better think you're joking because you are a great writer! I just finshed reading your Juno & Juliet book and was amazed of your capability to take the reader into a long self debate with yourself. I'm sorry I'm commenting without any relation to what you wrote but after seeing your comment here i had to post a comment and it's my first time on this blog, just finished reading the book 5 minuts ago and had to go research something about you. Had a hard time to find out what's your name in English because i read the book in hebrew (I live in Israel) but I had it in the end. I'm still a teenager at the age of 16 (17 in 2 months) and after reading it, well it's hard to describe it but I have a new perspective to life, as I said i took myself to a long debate with myself, about just everything, it may sound stupid or that I'm nuts but I didn't really yet started life, I'm still stuck at home, and this book just opened my eyes, to what world can be, and everything i dreamed off is really true, that maybe I'm not the only one thinking the way you are thinking or Juliet's character. I don't really read alot of books, because of the society telling me its geeky (teenagers thoughts), and I promised to my self to not live according to society, but after reading this book I realized it's still the case, I'm exactly the same kind of person as Juliet's character but afraid to show it to the outside world, everything in me is just thinking and not actions. Your book was really fun to read and made me want to start reading more, yeah your book made all that to one single person. I'm sorry I'm writing all this crap here but after reading that your quiting (which is probably a joke), I had to post this comment, never go writing for television or anything else that attract people to make money by writing stuff that are just for the entertainment for our poor society. Just keep writing! I saw you've published a new book this year so I'll probably check it out. Sorry for the unrelated comment again, my comment was probably so messed up that you won't understand a thing but try to. All this because of a book.

October 5, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAriel Vardi
Holy shit, Ariel, I'm humbled. That's a really beautiful comment, extremely honest and moving. OK, I won't quit. (I was joking, sort of, about quitting. I get depressed about writing novels, but I don't give up.).

I write in order to communicate with people like you, people I've never met, people I can't even be sure exist while I'm writing. From a writer's point of view, books are long messages in bottles thrown into the ocean. If the message does get through, it's read in silence far away. The writer doesn't usually ever hear anything back and can get depressed and assume the messages aren't arriving, or being understood, or appreciated. So your response is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you...

I'd been wondering for years if the Hebrew translation of Juno & Juliet was any good. (I'm afraid can't read Hebrew at all. I can just about recognise that the newspaper some guys are reading, in a drawing I own, is Haaretz.) I guess if it moved you so strongly, the translation must be good. I'm really pleased about that.

Where did you come across the book? I'd assumed it was long out of print in Israel. I don't think there were ever that many copies of it printed. I do like the cover though, the drawing of the girls with their backpacks. It gets a little of the essence of the book: what it feels like to be young, setting off into the world, the unguessable future. How huge the emotions are.
October 5, 2007 | Registered CommenterJulian Gough
And hey, Kevin feckin' Holmes, I forgot to say hi. You didn't leave an email, you blackguard. I hope you are well and happy. Have you read Jude: Level 1 yet? I'm guessing you'll enjoy the Orphanage scenes...

Yes it's mighty to have made both Guardians...
October 6, 2007 | Registered CommenterJulian Gough
To be honest, I started to read the book just because the cover looked good. I got the book from my mom's little shelve of literature material, don't know how she got it, and she didn't even bother to read it so I really don't know how it got there. The Hebrew translation was really good, just how the reading was flowing and fun made me realize it. I don't know if I'm the only one that got moved by the book (maybe because of my age, or because of my personality) but It has to get to other people because basically the book is absolutely just so good!
Oh and by the way, very nice analogy. I guess I'm the lucky guy who got the bottle. (I won't spam anymore here, I promise)
October 7, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAriel Vardi
Just to stick my oar in here, a comment to both Ariel and Julian - please don't ever feel like you're alone in your thoughts and feelings. It's my experience (and I'm getting on now bejaysus) that most people (unless sociopaths) share many of the same buried thoughts and feelings and are just waiting for someone, whether it be a writer, friend or even foe to come along and empathise with them. Many people cannot express their thoughts and therefore feel alone - personally, I hate the very thought of what I see as young men in particular living in some kind of a vaccum, thinking they are alone in their feelings...makes me shiver to the bone...Write on.
October 14, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSiobhan MacGowan
Ariel, you're not spamming! I genuinely appreciate your feedback. Post anytime... I run a sloppy site. Feel free to be as off-message as you want.
October 14, 2007 | Registered CommenterJulian Gough
...and thanks for that comment, Siobhán. I must have been posting the same minute as you, I didn't see your one there till later.

I agree with what you're saying, too. I tried to put a lot of that into Juno & Juliet, the sense you get, when young, that you've so many thoughts and so much emotion in you that it's painful and it can't get out through the means you have available. The emotions are so heavy, and the words are so frail.
October 14, 2007 | Registered CommenterJulian Gough
Yes, I remember well the feeling of being in my early 20s, my brain trying to catch up with my mouth before it did some serious damage, then my mouth trying to verbalise the 1000 conflicting emotions to another and seeing that understandbly questioning look on the face of the receiver, as I realised, once again, I had made myself less than clear. It's a very confusing time and the reason I worry for boys or young men rather than girls, is because girls tend to, in the end, put it all out on the table to their girlfriends, not being so afraid to look foolish. We don't mind raking through bits n pieces of the soul with eachother. Boys, on the other hand, generally do worry about looking foolish and tend to keep it all locked inside. Therefore, any book that verbalises the conflicting thoughts - for it is the conflicting thoughts that cause the trouble - should be compulsory reading for the young person. On the Leaving Certificate I say, or school curriculum here, there and everywhere. And then, class, discuss! Discuss I say!
October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSiobhan MacGowan
By the way, just going slightly off current topic here, learning to fart the Swiss national anthem, indeed any or all national anthems, might not be as silly an idea as it sounds. Not all events can afford a live band at their openings/closings,thus necessitating a recording of the participating nations'anthems to be played via, no doubt, some electrical device and in these days of energy-saving ideas, your idea sounds to me a very practical and possibly profitable one.
October 15, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterSiobhan MacGowan

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