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

Friday, March 7, 2014

"Music at Annahullion by Eugene McCabe (2004)

Event Resources  Everyone Is Invited to Join Us for Irish Short Story Month Year Four

Ways to Participate-you can do a post on your blog and let me know about it-I will keep a master list and I will publicize your post and blog.

If you are an Irish connected  author and would like to be featured, please contact me.   There are several options open.

If you would like to do a guest post on my blog on anything related to Irish short stories, contact me.

Eugene McCabe (born 1930 in Glasgow, Scotland to Ulster Irish parents-they returned at the start of WWII)  was an arts graduate of University College Cork.  Upon graduation he ran the family farm for over fifty years, writing when he could.  His most famous work is Death and Nightingales, upon which I have posted.  He is a member of Aosdana and still lives and writes in the family farm on the Monaghan-Fermanagh border.

"Music at Annahullion" is a deeply powerful story centering on the lives of two brothers and a sister running a farm.  It is a work very much in the tradition of stories about the consequences of the emotional constraint of the Irish.   It is also about the way in which family farms and obligations often kept people from marrying.   Like other stories, it reminded me of the magnificent poem, "The Great Hunger" by Patrick Kavanagh.  It is very much in the tradition of the stories of John McGahern.   

Anne Enright in her introduction to The Granta Book of The Irish Short Story said she was so moved by
the power of this 12 page story that she could read nothing else for the rest of the day.   

Life is hard on the farm.  Money has to be watched.  The oldest brother runs the farm and puts up no hunting or fishing signs on the property even though it is so poor there is nothing to hunt or fish for on the land.   The sister keeps the house and the younger brothers pays board and works day labor. None of them are married but the sister says their younger brother knows "every bad woman in the county".   One day the sister learns a piano is going to be put up for auction.   The older brother says it is not practical and will be expensive.   Then one day he brings it home as a gift.   You can tell he feels great pride in this and his sister is overjoyed but no one can express their feelings other than to denigrate the old piano.   The ending is very powerful and it is in fact disturbing.  The undercurrents of emotion in this story run very deep.

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