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

Monday, December 24, 2012

"Death Road" by John Duffy

"Death Road" by John Duffy (2012, 6 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

John Duffy

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 will thus be posting only on the short stories in the collection.  

You might have seen a National Geographic Channel program about the terribly dangerous road through the Andes in Bolivia that the narrator in this story crosses in a bus ride sure to scare anyone out of their wits who is not from there.   The first person speaker is an Irishman out for an adventure in the wilds of South America and he happens to hook up with a beautiful and delightful sounding "French girl of Lebanese extraction".   Some cynics say the reason the English conquered India was because they could do things and have adventures there that they could never do at home.   I think that is part of the deeper theme of this very interesting marvelously cinematic story.    As I read the account of the bus trip on the world's most dangerous road, the slightest miss turn takes the bus over a cliff and the chickens on the bus I thought of the pretty scary and dangerous cross island buses of the Philippines.  

I was able to pretty directly relate to this story as I have also traveled in the back roads of Latin America on roads not much better than the one talked about in this story.

The best part of the story is the wonderful account of the bus trip and the descriptions of the Bolivian Indian women in their bowler hats.   Their description reminded me very much of experiences I have had in the highland of Guatemala, often considered the most beautiful place in the world.

I think one think also sought in this great work is a contact with a wilder, darker, more dangerous beauty than Ireland can provide the narrator.  

Duffy has another story in the collection, "Frightened Hen" and I liked it a lot also.  

Author Data

John grew up in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland.  He graduated from the National University of Ireland Galway in 2011 with a Bachelor's degree.  His writing career has included poems, short  fiction and travel writing.  He draws his inspiration from the landscape and people of West Ireland.  He is currently working on a collection of short stories.

I hope to one day post on a collection of short stories by John Duffy and will follow his career as best I can from the other side of the world.

Mel u

1 comment:

@parridhlantern said...

Another great collection & one containing Poetry, fantastic.
Best wishes for the season & the coming year.