Winter Papers 6: There’s nothing here that doesn’t earn its keep

Book review: If you’re hungering for intelligent creative responses to 2020, Barry and Smith have what you’re looking for

Winter Papers, Kevin Barry and Olivia Smith’s annual of Irish writing, is beautifully made as ever, the gilt lettering and profile portrait on linen covers reminiscent of the early twentieth century hardback children’s books now used to represent literature on wallpapers and tote bags. Beautiful endpapers of birch trees, heavy cream paper, fine font: in these digital times there’s comfort in the well-made object.

The annual anthology must speak of the year gone, going by, and we know – we think we know – the only story in town for 2020, especially for the film-makers, theatre directors and musicians interviewed here. It’s too soon, I’ve been telling people, it’s journalists who write about stories when we’re in the middle of them, novelists stand back, wait for patterns to form, watch and listen, but I might have been wrong, at least for short stories and memoirs.

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