The Book Show S4 #8 Helen Simpson, Rory Gleeson, Virago Press

On this week’s Book Show Sinéad Gleeson speaks to short story writer Helen Simpson about her latest collection of stories Cockfosters. Helen’s first collection of stories was published almost 30 years ago and in her writing she has chronicled the lives of young couples and first time parents and now, in her 50’s, she turns her attention the lives of people whose children have grown up and who find themselves slightly older and with more time on their hands.
Age and time have always been part of her writing and she says that many misconceptions about older people – especially older women – remain.

Rory Gleeson has written a debut novel called Rockadoon Shore and in it he concerns himself with the lives of a group of twenty-somethings who decide to spend a weekend on Rockadoon Shore on Ireland’s west coast.
Drink and drugs and sexual tension are added to the claustrophobic mix of a remote location and close friendships and things do not go according to plan. Their antics are watched by an older man, Malachi, who is from Rockadoon and who becomes drawn to their young lives. Rory tells us about the novel and reads small sections from it.

Finally, Sinéad speaks to Virago publisher Lennie Goodings. Virago was set up in the UK in 1973 by Carmen Callil. It is a women’s press which publishes books by contemporary writers, such as Sarah Waters, or by women whose writing has undeservedly fallen by the wayside, such as Barbara Pym. Virago also publish work by Irish writers such Molly Keane, Maura Laverty and Kate O’Brien. Lennie tells Sinéad about the political atmosphere of the 1970’s when the company was established and explains how even a successful writer such as Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr.Ripley books) can find some of her work out of print.