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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Two Short Stories by Robert Higgins from Abandoned Darlings

"Copper" (2012, 5 pages)
"Fall"  (2012, 5 pages)

A Reading Life Project

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

Robert Higgins

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.
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.  

Robert Higgins seems to me a writer of extreme talent who was able to create two very well developed worlds in his stories in the collection.  Both deal with young people in very difficult situations, situations made worse by drinking.   Declan Kiberd in his great book, Inventing Ireland:  The Literature of the Modern Nation, says one of the core themes of Irish literature is the consequences of the weakness or absence of the father in modern Irish society and both of Higgins' stories directly face this issue without blinking.  

Of his two stories, if I had to pick a favorite, it would be "Cooper".  This story is told in the first person by a young woman, late teen or early twenties it seems, who is in a relationship with the worse kind of man, a thief, a drunk, a drug user who abuses her and puts his friends above her. She left her mother's home to live with him, he goes by the name of "Chicken" and she has not seen her mother in a year.   Chicken and his mate make their money by going into vacant houses and buildings and stealing all the copper wiring so they can sell it.   I imagined people coming home to see all the wiring, even their water heater, stolen from their house!  Higgins does a great job of letting us be there for the robbery.   There is a lot of plot action in this wonderful story.  The girl reunites with her mother and she does something big at the end and we are left hoping for the best for her.   I will not tell more of the plot but Higgins made this very real for me.   There is a great feeling of sadness hanging over this poignant story.

"Fall" deals directly with the issue of the consequences to the lives of children brought about by  a weak father.   In this story there are two central characters, a young man, mid-teens I guess and his father.   The man's wife died not to long ago and the man never recovered.   Like the prior story, heavy use of alcohol plays a big part in this story.  One day the boy comes home and sees his father has blood on his head.  Of course the boy says "what happened" and the man tells him he thinks maybe he had a stroke and he fell over.   Alarmed the boy drags him to the doctor.   I will not spoil this deeply moving story for first time readers but it will for sure make you think, especially if there is any history of drinking as a way of coping with grief in your past or family.

I look forward to reading more work by Robert Higgins.

Author Data (from Abandoned Darlings)

Robert Higgins is from Granard, County Longford, Ireland and moved to Galway after completing his secondary education.    He has long had a passion for writing and 2011 decided he wanted to devote himself fully to writing and began the MA in writing program at NUIG.  

You can learn more about the collection here.  They also have a Facebook page.

I would suggest to all the writers in this collection, and to any aspiring writer, start a webpage or blog so people interested in your work can learn more about you.  

I look forward to reading the short stories in this exciting collection and learn about more very promising writers, like Robert Higgins, whose career I will try to follow, as best I can from the other side of the world.

Mel u


Paul McVeigh said...

Love the work you do Irish writers Mel. You're so dedicated. Thank you.

Ruth Quinlan said...

This is great Mel - I am really looking forward to reading all of your upcoming posts about the collection. I'll be posting the links to it on Facebook shortly!