Ordinary Domestic is written by Carol McKay
Carol McKay’s stories have been published widely over the last decade in literary magazines including Gutter, Chapman and Mslexia. Ordinary Domestic gathers them together for the first time and sets them in context with some of her wider work.
Ordinary Domestic was published in early 2012 and you can read an extract below and click on the links to purchase it from Amazon or Kobo.
Praise for Ordinary Domestic: Collected Short Stories
‘The author talks in the voices of the marginalized, the robbed, beaten and raped, the dispossessed. That she finds humanity not just in them but also in their persecutors is a measure of the power of her quiet, lethal understatement.’
David Manderson, author of Lost Bodies, Kennedy & Boyd, 2011, and The Antihero’s Journey, Peter Lang, 2021.
‘Carol McKay’s skill is in the compassion she conveys for her characters regardless of their flaws or the chaos of their lives. … She writes about the awkward topics (disability, adoption, incest, sexual violence) with such deceptive ease that it is our own discomfort and prejudices that we bump up against, not those of the author.’
Alison Napier, Northwords Now issue 21, Summer 2012.
One of the short stories from Ordinary Domestic was published in The Herald. In ‘Our Family Tradition‘ Carol interweaves two strands of a woman’s past into this poignant piece of flash fiction. And if you follow the recipe you’ll find it is just as delicious as the story.
Our Family Tradition
It was the trip to the old country town that did it. I went there for a butcher’s. And a good veg shop, a traditional baker’s and a stroll around the old streets where my mother used to live. I needed something familiar after the news the doctor had given me.
Warm 3oz butter and a quarter pint of milk in a thick based pan.
I used to take Stephen there when he was younger, the bus straining uphill through the farms and the miners’ villages.
Add one pound of granulated sugar and stir until dissolved.
The big curly chute and the high straight one Stephen always wanted to climb the wrong way. I was torn between holding my stomach in fear and gasping in awe. Usually I banned it in a kind of early modern asbo, shooing him past the burn and the museum to the tablet shop as a bribe.
Add 4oz of sweetened, condensed milk and bring to a rolling boil. Stir to prevent sticking.
But the tablet shop’s gone and so is the chute. That’s why I do my own climbing, up the shoogly ladder into the loft, my arms trembling as I heave myself in. And here’s my mother’s old vanity case, oval, hard bodied, with its burgundy check sides and bakelite handle. I flick the lock. Inside, the sprigs of lavender and the flimsy pages in her familiar looping blue back hand. And the recipe I’ve been looking for.
The mixture turns thick and caramel coloured (15 – 20 mins). Test by dribbling a tspnful into cold water till it forms a soft ball.
Stephen says tablet’s our family tradition.
Stir in 1tspn vanilla essence and beat until it loses its gloss. Pour into a lightly buttered tin and mark into squares.
I touch my breast in the darkness and wonder how I’ll introduce him to our other one.