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

Friday, November 16, 2012

"Falling Short on the Drum Roll" by Elaine Cosgrove A Story from 30 Under 30

"Falling Short on the Drum Roll"  by Elaine Cosgrove

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

Elaine Cosgrove

"it's been three days since me and her spoke and I have this joke about the police investigating the murder of a computer programmer who was hacked to death".

There are thirty stories in 30 Under Thirty:  A Selection of Short Stories by Thirty Young Irish Writers. So far I have posted on five of them.  (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.. (I have posted on Walsh's brilliant collection of interrelated short stories, Borders.)   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.  As of now I hope to post on all of the stories in the collection.  By doing this I also give myself a good introduction to what might be the future of the Irish short story.

If I do post on at least 20 of the stories, I will be bold, or rude, enough to post a list of top five stories.   
"Falling Short On The Drum Roll" is a great, brief story, told from the husband's point of view, of the fallout from a bad martial fight and the difficulty of putting words back in your mouth after you have already spoken them.   It is a great work of flash fiction, a genre I am developing a fondness for.   When I first began to post on short stories, about two years ago, and came upon the new to me literary expression, "flash fiction" I thought, OK stories for the twitter world and I admit I kind of dismissed it.   Like many an uninformed first reaction,  ironically this is kind of the point of "Falling Short On The Drum Roll", I have seen I was utterly wrong.  Flash fictions requires a lot of concentration on the part of reader and writer and the best of it comes closes to poetry. 

There is a lot of Irish slang in this story.  It is fun for me as an outsider to learn these expressions.   Cosgrove has a brilliant ear for the rhythms of speech.  "We hadn't been getting on.  Our personal stuff had collided, knocking the heads off each other when we should have been listening to one another.   We'd both been dirty dish skyscraped at work.   She had a pitfall manager and I had a bottle of boredom with everyday tasks".   I like the speech patterns of the man a lot.  I do not know if this is making use of common slang or if they are original expressions.   One common item writers about Irish literature talk about is the rich vocabulary and verbal fluency of the people in Irish stories and novels and "Falling Short On The Drum Roll" is marvelously in that tradition.  Declan Kiberd, whose work is helping me understand Irish literature as a post colonial matter, has said that the development of verbal fluency was a survival tool used by the Irish in dealing with their colonial masters.   

The big fight takes place at a social event for the wife's job.   The husband makes a really stupid joke, I can relate as it did sound like something I might do, and his wife texts him to go stay at his brother's.

As the story ends, Cosgrove conveys a huge amount in two pages, we know a lot about the man, his wife, and their marriage but what we don't know, and this is where the true brilliance of Cosgrove comes through, is what will happen next.

I really like this story an awful lot.

I hope to post on a collection of short stories and flash fiction by Cosgrove one day.  

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.  

I will be posting on more stories from the collection soon.  

To the authors in the collection, my only word of advise is that if you want to become know for your work or aspire to be a professional writer, set up a webpage or blog.  The best Irish writers have great webpages.   

You can learn a but more about Elaine Cosgrove and read some of her wonderful poems on her webpage.

Author Data 

Elaine Cosgrove was born in Sligo and lives in Galway.  She writes poetry, flash fiction and creates collages of words with photographs.   She was short listed for both the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award and the Fish Publishing One Page Short Story Prize in 2010

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