Ian McEwan: Nutshell


The central idea for this short novel is from Hamlet: ‘Oh God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space – were it not that I have bad dreams.’ The story is narrated (soliloquized) by a foetus Hamlet, whose mother is Trudy (as in Gertrude) and her lover is Claude (as in Claudius). The foetus  eavesdrops on the plot of the lovers to do away with the father (a poet), so that the two can be together without his intrusion.  It’s a clever idea. I’m sure that McEwan did his usual painstaking research so that the cramped environment from which the foetus narrates the story is accurate. Although, how a foetus could have any brain cells left after the huge amount of alcohol (including spirits) consumed by his mother, I don’t know. The whole thing is referenced, perhaps too nicely, to the play – the…

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Paradise, by Helen McDonald

Elwood Writer Helen’s poem Paradise is published by Celapene Press in Short and Twisted 2016. Short and Twisted is an annual anthology of short-stories and poetry with a twist at the end. Congratulations, Helen!
You can read Helen’s poem below. And if you’d like to enjoy more of this wonderful anthology, the book is available here.


Under brooding skies
beside the sheening metal sea
scuttling children, two-legged crabs,
tunnel to China, heads down bottoms up,
side-stepping drifting jellyfish
lazy see-through saucers just off-shore.
A seaside edge of seaweed currants
tortured palms, abandoned spades.

A flock of yachts strains, bows to the breeze.
Gulls on matchstick legs, beaks to the wind,
sentinels to the barricades banked along the sand
stretching out to claim the beach.
Signs that scream ‘Keep out’.
It’s not for you

Helen McDonald