I was very glad to see that Kevin Barry included a story by Mary Costello, author of China Factory, in his just published collection, Town and Country - New Irish Short Stories. I intend to read all of the twenty stories in the collection, thirteen of which are by new to me writers. I previously posted on an excellent story by William Wall from the collection.
Frank O'Connor said the short story is the perfect form to explore loneliness, which can take a multitude of forms. "Barcelona" is about an unmarried couple on vacation in Spain. The woman wants to see the grave of Lorca, a poet killed by the fascists in the civil war. I understood this as one of my goals in a recent trip to Ireland with my brother was to visit the grave of William Butler Yeats.
One very hard to bear at times form of loneliness comes from knowing that those you are seemingly closest to do not share your deepest concerns. The woman in the story once had a relationship with a very troubled man who was deeply concerned about animal rights and suffering. The woman shares these views even though her current boyfriend does not and almost mocks them. Some of the images in this story are very vivid and may make you cringe a bit if you eat a meat centered diet. The story goes back into the woman's past where she recalls her father, who took wonderful care of his animals, leading his cows to be slaughtered. She sees the world as a great slaughter house. There is much more to this wonderful story and I hope you will one day have the pleasure of reading it.