Friday 1 December 2023

Laurie Cusack, "The Mad Road"

Congratulations to Laurie Cusack, University of Leicester PhD Creative Writing graduate, whose debut collection of short stories, The Mad Road, has just been published by Roman Books, as part of its Stretto Fiction series!

Laurie Cusack (PhD) hails from Leicester. He studied Creative Writing at Leicester University. He writes from the gut −  The Mad Road is published by Roman Books, and is his debut collection of short stories. The stories were first drafted as part of his PhD thesis at Leicester.

About The Mad Road, by Laurie Cusack

The Mad Road is a collection of short stories that deals with raw Irish experience in a ‘Fairy Tale of New York’ meets Trainspotting sort of fashion. There is a comic-toughness about Cusack’s narratives that keeps you turning the page. They are working class in nature and aren’t for the fainthearted. 

You can read a review of The Mad Road on Everybody's Reviewing here. Below, you can read an excerpt from one of the stories. 

From The Mad Road

Usher’s Well

“Do you want the shamrock on the cream, Davey?”


“Brewery directive.”

“Just give me the fucking drink, Hughie.”

“We’re like Sainsbury’s now. We have to ask.”

“Brand Ireland, eh?”

“Now you said it.”

It was just the two of them in The Angel. For the last fifteen years, Hughie O’Connor had been the landlord of the Irish pub tucked in the back streets of Hackney. Traditional music often thrived within its walls.

“Was I missed?” Davey Murray whispered, trying to gauge Hughie’s mood.

Hughie gave his old friend an odd look followed by a shrug. He liked order, liked being kept in the loop. He kept a tight rein on things; a no messing policy; barred meant barred. No early-doors; no late ones. But Davey was the exception to his rules. Hughie often wondered why. Maybe it was because they had been on the shovel together during Hughie’s early days in London. Demolition. Dusty and dangerous work. And most of their wages went on drink in and around the pubs of Cricklewood.

“There were a few asking for you, come to think of it.”

Davey hadn’t shown his face for ages. Unusual. Not a sight or a whiff of him. Hughie had scratched his head a good few times during the past few weeks.

“Look… I had to split, alright?”

“Going off grid is a mortal sin, nowadays.” 

“Am I daft or stupid, Hughie?”

“Now − that, might take a long time to answer, Davey.”

“Ruffled a few feathers?”

“You could say that.”


“Your manager − coming in here, making a show, Where’s the fucking bollix?”


Davey’s manager, Rory Higgins, was a character who handled Irish, showbands and other novelty acts. The Impresario of Kilburn High Road − that was what they called him. He had the knack for smelling money. He was always bucking the trend. Davey would still be busking tube stations if Higgins hadn’t chanced upon him ...

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