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Nicole Flattery Books In Order

Publication Order of Short Story Collections

Show Them a Good Time (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Nicole Flattery is a literary fiction author from the UK who has been making waves with her debut work “Show Them A Good Time.” Flattery was brought up in Kinnegad, Co Westmeath to a father that taught English and an accountant mother. English was a favorite subject for the young Nicole but it was not until she was in college and took a playwriting module that she learned that she loved to write. At Trinity College, she studied Film and Theatre and credits the likes of Marina Carr, Beckett, Enda Walsh as well as Wes Anderson and David Lynch among her biggest influences. The drama and speech classes in university had a huge effect on the budding author as they showed her that she could be free to do improv and that there are no wrong impulses. From her university studies, she learned the power of a great setting and the rigors of dialogue writing and characterization that have come in handy.

Even though Flattery went on to graduate with a Creative Writing master’s degree from Trinity, she did not do much of writing after graduation. She worked several minimum wage jobs that included selling cards at a greeting card shop, checking in coats at the cloakroom of a nightclub among many other odd jobs. She got her first break with the short story “Hump,” which she published when she was 27 years old. During this time, she was working at the Lilliput Press as an intern when the editor of “The Stinging Fly” Thomas Morrison asked to read her story. He requested several rewrites and when the short story was finally published it went on to win her The White Review Short Story Prize and £3000 in cash. It was also the breakthrough she needed as soon after publishing she was approached by Tracy Bohan an agent who wanted to sign her immediately. “Hump” would later become the first story of her critically acclaimed work “Show Them A Good Time.” Her novels have been published in prestigious magazines such as “The Stinging Fly,” “The Irish Times,” “The Letters Page,” “The Dublin Review,” “Winter Papers,” and “The White Review” among others. While she spent much of her childhood in Mullingar, she currently resides in Galway.

Nicole writes her stories on the themes of early to mid-life lack of direction, womanhood, and work, most of which are tackled slantwise. Her writing is similar to Lorrie Moore of the 90s or Diane Williams as she writes in an off-kilter voice blending hard to interpret allegories and chatty candor. This she combines with casually disturbing revelations and deadpan drollery to make for some interesting reading. Most of her protagonists come from quaint small towns in Ireland just like her. They are often trying to create a new life for themselves in the big cities of New York, Dublin, and Paris and are anxious about being found to be not good enough. She builds a natural sense of space and movement from dramatic composition, which she must have gotten from her college studies. Through her many characters, the collection of stories in “Show Them A Good Time,” Nicole examines the different roles people play in life. For Flattery, most of life is performance and many people are survivors of trauma acting out their lives on stage. She has asserted that she wanted to do something in which time felt weird and fractured since time is never linear when one is traumatized.

Similar to Mary Gaitskill’s “Secretary,” Flattery is interested in knowing the lives of people deeply estranged from their environment. These are people that feel isolated even when they are in rooms full of people. It would seem that the most isolated are the persons in relationships, who are isolated not only from those close to them but also from themselves. For Flattery, her novels are all about young women looking for meaning in place where there is none. They attend college but do not know why they are studying, lie still on bathroom floors for hours, walk around doing nothing and do not even know where they come from. Even when they cry they do not know if the tears they are shedding are real or fake. It is a humorous novel as Flattery is an expert at mining the emotional state of her characters for laughs, even though she never dilutes the inherent bleakness in their story. Her stories have a rhythmical snap and a thrilling relentlessness that excites and pummels.

Nicole Flattery’s “Show Them a Good Time” is a blazingly dazzling and original debut that deconstructs the traditions of the literary fiction genre to come up with bizarre stories. She probes the wrenching and hilarious ambivalence of online dating in “Not the End Yet” as the apocalypse comes into the horizon. The mysterious disappearance of several women sets the stage for one woman to deal with the uncertainties about her sexuality in “Sweet Talk.” The centerpiece of the novel is “Abortion, A Love Story,” a dystopian story of two college students that try to reconcile their perilous bodies with a stressful academic culture. It is a wickedly funny, alarming and subversive story with a richly imagined even if surreal setting. Flattery always showcases her stories from unexpected and often startling angles while casting darkly hilarious, brutally honest, and unforgettable cast of girls and women. Her novels tell the narratives of girls and women forced into roles that restrict their expression such as the corporate employee, the widower’s second wife, the celebrity girlfriend or the lecherous professor’s student. Nicole’s genius is that she makes characters that demolish the boundaries of these limiting and limited boundaries with caustic intelligence and immense complexity. Her women are painfully hilarious and ferociously astringent to being restricted by anyone or any circumstance. Similar to the likes of Ottessa Moshfegh, Mary Gaitskill, Joy Williams, Miranda July and Lorrie Moore, the novel is a revelatory and intensely resonant voice. It is an achingly hilarious, humane and spiky voice that will reverberate through the literary culture and set the tone for years to come.

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