I first became acquainted with the work of Brian Kirk when I read his very well done short story, "The Shawl" in Long Story Short. Brian Kirk's story "The Shawl" represents to me one of the most basic reasons I have continued Irish Short Story Month for eight years and hope to continue it many more. It is a great feeling to me to read a story by a new to me writer who seems just at the start of his writing career and hope I will be able to watch her or him develop into a major writer. I have learned enough about the life and business world of Irish writers to know that it takes more than just talent. You have to find people willing to read your work and at some point pay you for it. This is far from easy, I know. (My post on "The Shawl" is here-it contains a link to the story.)
From my post of March 2013
I am very pleased to include a story by Brian Kirk in Irish Short Story Month VIII. (You can read the story at the link above, reading time is a very well spent ten minutes or so). “The Visitor” is the third story by Kirk upon which I have posted.
The story is set on Aran, an island of the coast from Galway. The narrator, a woman writer has come there to escape from the distractions of the city which blocked her writing, she feels. Aran is not named but she does, in a morning amble she thinks of Antoine Artaud, a French theater of cruelty writer, who in 1937 came to Aran to find peace, six weeks later, he was deported. I sense she tries to understand herself almost as a daughter of Artaud, trying to find a peace he never did.
The narrator came to Aran to be alone, but she finds this too painful. She has invited a formed college boyfriend to stay with her. He has brought with him thr city she longer to escape from but she is not yet ready to be alone. She cannot escape her involuntary memories, try as she might.
I find the prose of Kirk exquiste, he brings out hidden truthes
“I try to imagine living in the city again, dragging myself from fretful rooms to busy workplaces day in day out, suffering the passive cruelty of the commute and the ritual inanity of office talk. My heart sinks and my pulse races as I pause before the door and turn my face once more to the sky, feeling the early morning September sun—what little there is of it—wash over my face. I open the door at last to find him sleeping on the battered sofa in the open kitchen. For a moment I imagine he is dead, but his nasal breathing sets me straight. And then I see an opportunity. If I bludgeoned him with one of his dumbbells he might never wake at all. What would that mean for him? Would his senses have time to register the final shut down or would a sudden curtain fall on his flickering dreamscape, never to be raised.”
I can relate to a fear or hatred of the return to the city, I think many will.
She wants the man to leave but she fears being alone. She smells whiskey in his empty battle. Whiskey means something in west of Ireland it might not mean elsewhere. Maybe she wants the man with her as a kind of affirmation of her sexuality, her ability to hold a man, one who has had many women. But she hates her weakness and she knows she lacks the depth of self knowledge to rid herself of her dependency. She knows the man will leave her and is probably already unfaithful.
There is much more in “The Visitor”. It is a very Irish story but the characters are universal. I did feel I was back in west of Ireland.
I endorse this story to all lovers of Short Stories. I also urge the Reading of My Q and A with Brian for his insights into a very interesting set of topics. Be sure to visit his very well done webpage.
I hope to post on another of his Short Stories in April and in May. I hope he will be back for ISSM IX
Brian Kirk is a poet, short story writer, playwright and novelist from Dublin, Ireland. His work has appeared in the Sunday Tribune, Crannog, The Stony Thursday Book, Revival, Boyne Berries, Wordlegs and various anthologies.