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, December 26, 2012

"Crossing the Dunes" by Ruth Quinlan

"Crossing the Dunes" by Ruth Quinlan (2012, 2 pages)

A Collection of Poetry and Prose from the 2011-2012
National University of Ireland at Galway MA in Writing Class
Edited by Maya Cannon

Ruth Quinlan

"The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes,The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
To scatter plenty o'er a smiling land,
And read their hist'ry in a nation's eyes"  Thomas Gray

Not long ago I read and posted on all of the short stories in 30 Under 30:  A Selection of Short Stories by Thirty Young Irish Writers edited by Elizabeth Reapy.  One of the very big benefits to me, aside from the pleasure of reading some great stories, is that it created a base of young Irish writers whose careers I could begin to follow.    My thinking was if this is done for a relatively long time you could develop a sense of the way modern Irish literary culture works and I could see how writers develop themselves or how they abandon their craft.   

Abandoned Darlings, edited by Maya Cannon (2012) is an anthology of short stories and poetry by the MA in writing class at National University of Ireland at Galway.  I have never been to Galway but I know for a city of under 100,000 people it has produced more great writers than many a city with over five million people.  You can find  countries with a population of over 100,000,000 million whose literary output would be put to shame by Galway writers.  I will review and post one at a time on all of the short stories in the collection, fourteen in my quick count.

 I do not especially like posts on anthologies of short stories that just rave on about them in general.  When I visit a forest I do not just like to see the trees, I like to see the moss that grows on them, the vines that climb them and listen to the birds that make them their home.  I like to peel the bar from the trees to see the insects that bore into the trees, I like to study their roots. Sometimes I like to climb to the top of the trees and survey the environment   once in a while I build a tree house and stay awhile.    I  prefer to post on short stories one at a time rather than generalize about a collection.

There are lots of poems in the collection, I have already read several.  I liked them all.  I have posted on collections of Eastern European poetry but generally speaking I do see much point in posting on short poems one at a time.   The only poets I have read extensively are Yeats and Whitman.  I have read broadly in older English language poetry but not much contemporary work.    I will thus be posting only on the short stories in the collection.  

"Crossing the Dunes" by Ruth Quinlan is a beautiful work that in just a few words makes us feel the immense pain the death of her father causes a woman.    One of the things I really liked about this work was how the later part of the work forced you to rethink your reading of the first part and in so doing made you see the sad beauty of the Irish countryside.   As I read it I was brought to mind "Elegy Written in A Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray.  The narrator of this story walks along dunes along the Atlantic, near the great cliffs of the shores of the West of Ireland.   She, I am just assuming the narrator is female, recalls a man who once walked the dunes with her.  The woman is walking barefoot among the stones, she wants to feel pain to be sure she is still alive, she wants to feel the cold of the ocean, maybe she wants physical pain to over-mask her heartbreak.  

This story is only two pages, just as I would not try to "sum" up Gray's magnificent poem, I will let you discover this for yourself.  It really must be read several times so you can fully whole the story in your mind and she how the parts connect.  This is a wonderful very moving story that speaks with the verisimilitude of lived pain which may show the beginning of real wisdom.

Quinlan has another longer story in the collection, "Moon-Kite" and I will post on it soon.

I will follow her writing career as best I can from the other side of the world.

Author Data

Ruth Quinlan is from Tralee, County Kerry. She worked in IT before taking a break in 2011 to try and scratch the writing itch and she has just completed the MA in Writing at NUI Galway. She was shortlisted for the 2012 Cúirt New Writing fiction prize and longlisted for the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year competition. Her work has been published by Emerge Literary Journal,ThresholdsSINScissors and Spackle and as part of the current Irish Independent Hennessy New Irish Writing series. She has also recently contributed towards two group anthologies, Abandoned Darlings (fiction) and Wayword Tuesdays (poetry).

She blogs here.    She talks about the personal genesis of "Crossing the Dunes" and I suggest you read it after you have read the story at least twice.  


Ruth Quinlan said...

Thanks Mel! Great feedback.

Mel u said...

Ruth-it was my honor-I hope to read a lot more of your work