There is a quince tree in the Alice Munro short story The Moons of Jupiter, and also in the poem “Lunch With Pancho Villa” by Paul Muldoon. In the novel The Love of Singular Men, by the Brazilian author Victor Heringer, a mother beats her son with a quince branch. I have never seen a quince tree IRL, but I have shaken Paul Muldoon’s hand, in the lobby of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, on 30 October 2019. His skin was soft, unlike the fruit of a quince tree, and he was shorter than I had imagined. I have never met Alice Munro, though I have given a writers workshop in which we talked about one of her short stories. We talked about it for a long time. I have never met Victor Heringer, who died when he was only 29, but I have translated The Love of Singular Men from the Portuguese. I tell myself sometimes I am the only connection between Alice Munro, Paul Muldoon and Victor Heringer, apart from the quince tree. Though I know this is not true; there are certainly a lot of people who have met both Alice Munro and Paul Muldoon, and perhaps even someone who has met Alice Munro, Paul Muldoon and Victor Heringer. If there is, I would like to meet this person, and shake their hand. I imagine they might live in New York City, or perhaps Buenos Aires. They probably would have soft hands, and have seen any amount of quince.
James Young is a writer from Belfast. His short fiction has appeared in a number of literary journals including Wasafiri, Short Fiction and Honest Ulsterman. He has been shortlisted for the Wasafiri, Bath, Seán Ó Faoláin, and Fish short story awards. He is the editor of Short Fiction literary journal and the founder of The Hastings Writers Workshop, a creative writing centre. He is also a literary translator and won the 2022 Peirene Stevns Translation Prize. His first novel-length translation, The Love of Singular Men by Victor Heringer, will be published by Peirene Press in July 2023. Twitter: @seeadarkness