Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Pastorale" by Patrick Boyle

"Pastorale" by Patrick Boyle (1972, 12 pages)

The Irish Quarter:
A Celebration of the Irish Short Story
March 11 to July 1

Please consider joining us for The Irish Quarter.  To Join in you need only do a post on an Irish Short Story (or on a book related to the field such as Frank O'Connor's The Lonely Voice:  A Study of the Short Story) and let me know about it.  Guest posters are very welcome.  If you have any questions, suggestions, or complaints, just leave a comment and I will get back to you soon.  

Patrick Boyle (1905 to 1982) was an Ulsterman, born in Ballymoney.   For many years he worked at the Ulster Bank.  He published three collections of short stories and one novel, Like Any Other Man.  It appears to me none of his work is in print anymore.   There are no other book blog posts on him.  Of the three articles linked to him in his Wikipedia article, two of them are no longer up including one titled "Novelist in Oblivion" so I am guess his work is not read a lot anymore.  I read this story in William Trevor's anthology The Oxford Book of the Irish Short Story.

As I read this story I could not help but think of one of my closest friends, Marty Boyle, who died far to young.  This post is dedicated to him.   He was an American very proud of his Irish heritage.  

There is a distinct version of both English and Irish spoken in Ulster, especially in Donegal where Boyle lived and worked most of his life.   These patterns of speech, showing heavy Scotch influences, is used wonderfully in the dialogue and the third party narration in "Pastorale".  

"Pastorale" is about three brothers, two stayed at home and worked the family farm and were good sons, good church goers and family men.  There other brother had to leave for Australia because of a scandal with a woman.  He was also a heavy drinker and scorned the mass he was brought up to attend.  As we meet them the local priest is there to give the father the last rights.  There is problem, he has never completed a will dividing his property and the two good brothers are afraid their other brother will hear of the father's death (he is pretty well fixed) and come back and claim part of the farm and end up losing it all for everyone through dissipation and womanizing.  They want their father to sign a will on his death bed but the old man is not ready to give up yet.  I will leave rest of the story untold as I hope Boyle will still have a few readers left. I am very glad I read it and would read more of his work.

Mel u


valerie said...

Good to see Boyle included in the William Trevor anthology. I have it here and enjoyed it

Anonymous said...

I found this blog post after reading the story in Trevor’s anthology. It’s got that great Irish humour rippling along throughout. I love it. My other favourite from that anthology - with the same kind of humour- is The Weaver’s Grave