March 1 to April 14
You are invited to participate in Irish Short Story Month III. If you are interested e-mail me.
"Ebb and Flow" by Ger Burke is a wonderful story about the ebb and flow of a new relationship between an American professor of cinema at Columbia University and an Irish woman he met online. He is on a year's sabbatical and is in Galway. She says she will take him on a tour of Salthill, a tourist area with lots of shops and restaurants located on Galway Bay. Galway bay is famous for its high tides so this echoes the relationship changes.
Once I knew the man taught cinema at Columbia I began to realize he sees his relationship with the woman, he is thirty eight, she twenty eight, as if it were a scene in a movie to be continually evaluated and then analysed again in the light of the next scene that unfolds. At first he begins to lose interest in the woman, she seems too intellectually shallow to interest him. (I do not know if we are supposed to have this brought to mind as I read this but I imagined a class in cinema at Columbia as a humanities option course for people who did not want to have to read something and I saw a professor who would specialize in this as somehow stuck perpetually at the emotional level of bright college students who can talk about movies at great length. His mother was a Shakespeare authority so maybe this is harsh but it is what came to my mind as I read.) Then he sees she has a copy of a work by Sartre in her purse and he begins to have another ebb in his relationship. I wondered why the author choose Sartre but I won't speculate on it other than to say he does seem the philosopher of choice of the alienated intellectual post adolescent.
He is so self-absorbed he does not realize her interest in him is ebb and flowing also. Sometimes something has to happen in a relationship to break it out of the cycle of mutual over analyzing and when this does it can lead to a real connection. I think this does happen at the end of "Ebb and Flow".
Burke does a very good job of bringing us into the minds of the man and woman. She made me feel I was in Galway watching the tides of Galway Bay ebb and flow. I really enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more of Ger Burke's work. This is a very well written story that brings both characters to life while still leaving us wondering about a lot of things
literary successes both in print and radio, including being short-listed
for the Francis McManus Short Story Award and long-listed for The Fish
Short Histories Prize and the 2012 Fish Flash Fiction Competition. She
is a co-editor of Crannóg literary magazine. Her novel My Father’s Lands
was published in 2010 by Wordsonthestreet. Braided Loves, her new
novel, is due out in 2013.
Ger Burke has kindly agreed to do a Q and A Session for ISSM3 so please look for that soon.