‘Gloria and Max’ by Wendy Erskine

Wendy Erskine is one of my favourite writers, so it’s nigh on impossible to choose just one of her stories. Her style is kinetic and quirky, and her stories are almost always set in Belfast, where I now live. She takes seemingly mundane placesand situations and creates an enticing world for you to walk into. You are there in the room with her characters, sitting beside them.

In ‘Gloria and Max’, a visiting academic who has recently arrived in Belfast gives a woman a lift to a “so-called Christianfilm festival… in some godforsaken spot”. The trip turns into a traumatic event, and long afterwards he vividly remembers “a stained pink anorak, her hand on his arm”. I first read this story in the Stinging Fly, an Irish literary magazine, and couldn’t stop thinking about it. There’s a bluntness, an immediacy to the writing, and always a memory.

First published in the Stinging Fly, and then in Dance Move, published by Pan Macmillan, 2022 and available to read online here

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