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
"Ours was not a squirrels hopping and herons wading kind of place. It was a town where tattered swollen-bellied tourist mothers with fags in their gobs belted their dirty little tiny daughters, just because. And where skinhead skangers puked day-old Devil's Bit outside the Waltzers before skinning up Johnny Blue Jays with skank black has made with filthy skips, with tired old tires and woodchips".
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.
In March of this year I began what I intended as a ten day feature on my blog on Emerging Irish Women Writers. I found so many great writers that it, now expanded to all Irish writers, has become a permanent part of my blog. Starting this coverage was the best thing I have ever done for my blog. Through it I came into contact not just with literature but with those who create it and this deepened my appreciation of the creative process. Some of the writers I covered in that series of posts are already starting to become well known on the world literary stage and I expect many more will. I am totally convinced that if some one does an Irish Short Story Week in 2030, and I certainty hope someone will, that a number of the writers in 30 Under 30 will be featured as obvious picks.
I first read a wonderful work by Alice Walsh, "Samhain" during Emerging Women Writers Week and now I am very happy to have had the opportunity to read a second story by her. Lately I have been checking web pages like Discover Ireland, the official web site of the Irish tourism office and they do not seem to mention anything like a town like the one Walsh describes in "Downaround". It is a beach town, though people do not probably fly in from the Isle de France to go there, It is about a young woman trying to fit in and survive in a dark poverty ridden town, where the only release from boredom seems to be drinking your self into a coma, using any drugs you can afford, having meaningless sex or just hanging out with your mates. There is a lot of Irish slang in this story I had to Google but I could not find all the terms. For example I can only guess what a "Johnny Blue Jay" might be. I learned, I could have guessed this, that a "skanger" is a lower class person who commits petty crimes.
Our narrator is hanging out in the midday sun, drinking a Mister Freeze. The story captures perfectly an atmosphere of adolescent aghast fired by nothing to do with all day to do it and access to cheap alcohol and drugs. Lots of things happen in this story, including something kind of big but everything is seen by the young woman kind of like it was something on TV, i. e. keeps her distracted for a bit then it turns boring.
I will leave the rest of this story untold. Walsh does a great job in just a few pages of bringing a damp, dreary and a trifle dreadful world to life for us.
I hope to read more of the work of Alice Walsh in the future.
Alice Walsh works in the photography industry. In a former life she studied English Literature & Philosophy and American Literature & Film at University College Cork. She is also a librarian – but shhh, don’t tell anyone. Her writings have been published onwordlegs.com and podcasts.ie. Her work has been short listed and long listed in various competitions. . She is currently working on a short story collection.
She is the editor of a very very interesting online literary journal, The Bohemyth.
Here is the description of the journal: The Bohemyth is an online literary journal publishing short stories, flash fiction, personal essay and photography on a regular basis.
Another 30 Under 30 writer, Michael Shanks is assistant editor.
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.