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

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Today" by Aileen Armstrong

"Today" by Aileen Armstong  (2013)

March 1 to March 31
Aileen Armstrong

 Everyone Is Invited to Join Us for Irish Short Story Month Year III.  If you would like to participate please email me.  

I am very happy today to be able to post on a short story by Aileen Armstrong of Galway.  Armstrong's first book, a collection of short stories, will soon published by Doire Press.  "Today" can be read online at The Long Story, Short (I will provide a link at the close of the post) All of the stories in the collection are set in Galway, Ireland.  I have said it before and I am sure I will say it again, for a town of about 100,000 people the literary productivity of Galway is incredible.  

"Today" takes place two weeks before Christmas.  It is set in the Yo Yo Bean Coffee Shop located on the Canal.  It is a very cold day, so cold lots of the business are closed.  There are three main characters in this marvelous very witty and perceptive story.  One is Abbie and the other is her boyfriend Dara.  They are supposed to be partners in he coffee shop but Abbie runs he show.   As the story opens a man come in, orders a hazel nut cappuccino and tells Abbie the coffee shop is way to warm.  Abbie looks at the other customers and nobody seems  hot so he pretends to turn it down.  He is in the coffee shop with just his much younger sister, Claire.  Normally once Abbie shows up she kind of bosses everyone around.  The man complains more and more about how it is to warm.   Dara ends up putting his coffee in a paper cup and showing him out.  As soon as Abbie comes the first thing Claire does is to tell her that Dara threw a customer out.  Which Abbie of course has to explain. 

There is an interesting twist to the story.  Claire has a medical problem that causes her to have her period twice a month.  In the scene where Abbie tries to give her guidance on procedures during periods I could not help but think back to a much older short story by Maria Edgeworth, "The Purple Jar" which is said to be the first mention of menstruation in a short story.  I admit it is so veiled if I had not known what it was about in advance I might not have seen this at all.  I remember the father was disgusted by his daughter's condition.

Other customer's also come in the coffee shop.  The most important one is a swim coach, he used to coach Dara and now he coaches Claire.  Dara thinks even though he is 48 and Abbie 26 he likes her a little too much for his own comfort.  

There is more to this much more story than this and I really enjoyed reading it.  The relationships seem totally real, there are unanswered questions like where are the parents of Dara and Claire and why did Dara give up swimming but that is part of the wonder of the story.  The people seem real, we like them and it is really quite funny.  "Today" is a first rate short story.

I am looking forward to reading her collection of short stories latter in the year.

Aileen has agreed to do a Q and A Session so look for that shortly.

You can read this story online here.

Author Data

Aileen Armstrong lives in Galway. In 2009, she graduated from the M.A. in Writing programme at NUIG, and in 2010, she was awarded a literature bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the Stinging FlyThree Times DailyCuadrivioSome Blind Alleys, and Galway Stories. A collection of her short fiction is forthcoming from Doire Press in 2013. 

Mel u

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