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 3, 2012

"Gridlocked" by Joe Galvin

"Gridlocked" by Joe Galvin (2012, 11 pages)

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

Alan Bennett

There are thirty stories in 30 Under 30:  A Selection of Short Stories by Thirty Young Irish Writers.   (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..   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.   Because of the high quality of the stories and the collection's ability to acquaint me with contemporary Irish short stories, I now plan to post individually on all of the stories in the collection.

Upon completion of this project, I will list my top five stories.

I think Jonathan Swift would have enjoyed the wonderful satire of government and human foibles  found in "Gridlocked" by Joe Galvin.   Set in contemporary Cork, Ireland's second biggest city, it is the story of a man who does his best to get fired from his job as city traffic planner but whose seemingly crazy ideas turn out to be brilliant.   As the story begins we see a man getting up in years arising from bed after his customary evening of drinking himself into a stupor.   He is the head of a government department that is tasked with improving the terrible traffic gridlock in Cork.   He comes up with a completely idiotic idea and his bosses except it.  He is trying to get himself let go for being mental so he can get an early pension.   I do not want to tell any of the rest of the plot of this hilariously brilliant story as it alone is worth buying the collection to read. I laughed out loud as I read this story.   It also, as the best of satire does, has the complete ring of verisimilitude.   

Author Data (from 30 Under 30)

Joe Galvin was born in Cork and now lives in Dublin.  Joe is a regular contributor to The Phoenix and other journals.

He has a very interesting blog A Bad Alternative to Tabloid Journalism   

I hope "Gridlocked" is just the first of many short stories by Joe Galvin I have the privilege of reading.

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.

Guest Judges For the Awards for Best 30 Under Stories

There are five more stories in the collection.   There is a story in the collection that seems to be an extract from a larger work and I will not be posting on that work.

As I have said, once I have read all the stories I will be bold/rude enough to select my five top pics.  I will be guided by my guest judges, all with good Irish pedigrees.   We will have two great American writers of short stories, Flannery O'Connor and F. Scott Fitzgerald assisted by Barbara Baytnon, the daughter of bound Irish emigrants to New South Wales Australia, where she was born.   Born into poverty, she went on to become one of Australia's greatest short story writers and the wife of an English Baron.  

I think we will also have a "best flash fiction award" judged by Lord Dunsanny , who wrote some marvelous flash fiction long before it was trendy.   I am trying to get Colette to come from Paris and Katherine Mansfield, sans John Middleton Murray, to stop by also and name their favorite stories.   Perhaps we will have some of the great Russian and Indian short story writers stop by also.

The reason I am devoting so much time to this collection is I think the book is a work of real genius both in its conception and its contents.   

Mel u

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