30 Under 30: A Selection of Short Stories by Thirty Young Irish Writers edited by Elizabeth Reapy with a foreword by John Walsh
The Irish Quarter
Michael Nauhten Shanks
"He cracked the first egg with his long fingernails. A pure Mikado yellow knot of tissue and sponge fell out. He looked closer and saw it was a vole".
There are thirty stories in 30 Under 30: A Selection of Short Stories by Thirty Young Irish Writers. (I totally endorse purchase of this very fairly priced collection and will provide a publisher's link at the end of this post.) There is also a very interesting introduction by the editor Elizabeth Reapy (I have posted on her very well done short story, "Statues") and a foreword by John Walsh.. Agreeing with John Walsh, I think this book could well be a collector's item one day.
Posting on collections of short stories that include the works of many different authors presents a big challenge, to me at least. I do not personally care for reviews or posts on short story collections that simply have one or two lines on a few of the stories and then gush over the collection as a whole with standard book review quotes. These could in fact easily be written without reading much of the collection and to me it is like going on about a forest without realizing it is made up of trees. Because of the high quality of the stories and the collection's ability to acquaint me with contemporary Irish short stories, I now plan to post individually on all of the stories in the collection.
Upon completion of this project, I will list my top five stories.
"How To Make An Omelette After You Have Eaten Everything" by Michael Shanks is a completely fascinating work of flash fiction. Lenin famously said "You cannot make an omelette without cracking a few eggs" but he never had one like we find in this wonderfully bizarre work of magic realism. In an effort to "figure it out", and because I liked it a lot, I have read it five times. I do not want to tell much of the plot, it is only two pages and flash fiction, as many have said, approximates poetry and does not admit of intelligent summery. I will tell a bit so you can get a small feel for it. The story opens, I think, with a suicide attempt that fails when the rope breaks. It might be a dream or an hallucination of some kind, the story has a circular structure which lends to that view. The man after failing at suicide decides to make an omelette (this may also be an extended dream of some sort) As he cracks the eggs he finds very strange contents. In one of them he finds a "perfectly miniaturized elephant". As the contents of each egg was revealed (you need to read this story yourself!) I had a great time pondering what the contents might signify. I came up with no answers but that is OK as I would not have liked the story nearly as much if I thought I understood it!
I will say "How To Make An Omelette After You Have Eaten Everything" by Michael Shanks is for sure the strangest 19 out of 30 I have so far read. I would love to read more of his work.
You can find more information on 30 Under Thirty: A Selection of Short Stories by Thirty Young Irish Writers at the web page of Doire Press.
Author Data-From 30 Under 30
Michael Naghten Shanks is a 25 year old writer from Dublin. He holds a B.A. in English Studies from Trinity College Dublin. His writing has featured online and in print.
He is the assistant editor of The Bohemyth-Literary Journal, an online literary journal publishing short stories, flash fiction and photography on a regular basis. It appears to me to be a potentially major source of quality literature and I will be following it closely.