“Demise of the Undertaker’s Wife” is Anne Walsh Donnelly’s debut short story collection due from The Blue Nib in September 2019. Some of the stories previously appeared in Cránnog, Henshaw Two Anthology, Ireland’s Own Anthology, Creative Writing Ink Journal, Writers’ Forum and The Blue Nib.
Each story features characters facing an issue, such as loss of their home or a long term partner, that, in some cases, leads to a desperate solution. The stories explore themes of anger, betrayal, death and loneliness. Some characters reach redemption when they reach out to others for support to conquer their demons. A secondary theme that runs throughout is sexuality and the appalling effects of societal and religious pressure to conform and repress in favour of maintaining the status quo. The characters put their stories in their own words.
The title story starts with a father about to bury his adult son and a request for a larger coffin so the son’s dogs, poisoned by bullies, can be buried with him. The undertaker has his own problems: a spendthrift wife and his own son had left to live and work aboard, plus he’s haunted by an image of his wife in a black Audi with another man. The undertaker has gone as far as getting solicitor’s advice as to where he’d stand should his wife leave him but he doesn’t know whether she’s actually planning to leave. So far, the undertaker has turned a blind eye but when he remembers his son telling him about the black Audi just before he goes abroad, he resolves to do something to shock his wife into realising she can’t take him for granted anymore.
Anne Walsh Donnelly describes writing as “it is my playground. I experiment, take risks, run wild on the page, always hoping my work will resonate with the reader. I write my emotional truth and bring my whole self to my writing.”
Kevin Higgins describes Anne Walsh Donnelly as “by far the most daring poet to emerge in Ireland of late. The starkly honest and overt sexuality which pervades Anne’s poetry make the work of pretty much all her contemporaries appear repressed and backward looking in comparison. This publication would certainly have been banned in the Ireland of the past. Indeed, she is one of the few poets around whose work has the glorious ability to get moralistic, supposedly liberal eyebrows twitching. Anne’s poems are pretty perfectly formed hand grenades which she tosses about the place with abandon while maintaining a deadpan face. I think this publication is the beginning of something great.”
Anne Walsh Donnelly’s poetry chapbook “The Woman With The Owl Tattoo” (Fly On The Wall) was published in June 2019.