James Claffey’s collection of short fiction, Blood a Cold Blue, spans the distance between his Irish roots in Dublin and his present life on an avocado ranch in Carpinteria, California. Ronlyn Domingue, author of The Map Maker’s War, and The Mercy of Thin Air, 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.” These stories 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.
Claffey draws on the natural world around him for inspiration, whether it be the red earth of New Mexico, or the paved streets of his suburban Dublin childhood. Connotation Press editor, Meg Tuite says, “Blood a Cold Blue is fueled by a masterful writer; powerful, unforgettable and mesmerizing.” His 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.
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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