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 14, 2014

"Major Drill" by Ethel Rohan (2013, Lead Story in Goodnight Nobody)

I have been following the literary career of Ethel Rohan avidly ever since I first read her amazing story "Beast and the Bear" during ISSM in 2012.  I consider this story to be among the very greatest of all short stories (I have read most all of the consensus best stories) times.  I admit I was shocked at the time as I never thought I would read a story by a writer I had never heard of the day before and be so blown away by it.  I have read it numerous times since then and I still feel the same. I have sent it to people all around the world whose literary taste i respect and all loved it.   I have previously posted on a number of other Rohan's stories, and she kindly did a guest post and a wonderful Q and A for prior ISSM events.  

There are thirty short stories in her latest collection of short stories, Goodnight Nobody.  For sure I will read them all and I will post on some, maybe all of them.  Part of my reason for this is that writing about a literary works helps place it deeper into my consciousness and helps me recall and understand it.  Many of her stories are set in Ireland, but not all.  Some of my posts will be short, some long.  I have a lot I want to cover during this year's ISSM.  A short post in no way is a value judgement.

"Major Drill" is set in Ireland.  A young man, probably in his late teens, has just told his father he has signed up for The Irish Home Guard.  The father ridicules him and tells him the Home Guard is a joke, who are they protecting Ireland from.  The son was, it seems, talked into joining up by and old friend, after all they do get paid and the ladies do like a man in uniform.  We are there during drill practice and meet your typical bully boy drill instructor.   We see the boy's getting some play from the girls in the bars and we go along during a war game.

The very real fun of this story is being there at the guards and seeing the boy take his first steps to independence by joining the guard against the wishes of the father.  Toward the end, I sort of thought the father was secretly proud of his boy.

My Q and A with Ethel Rohan

From Author Web Site

Ethel Rohan is the author of two story collections, Goodnight Nobody and Cut Through the Bone, the latter named a 2010 Notable Story Collection by The Story Prize. She is also the author of the chapbook, Hard to Say. Her e-book, a short memoir titled His Heartbeat in my Hand, is forthcoming from Shebooks in 2014.

Winner of the 2013 Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award, her work has or will appear in The New York TimesWorld Literature TodayPEN America, Tin House Online, The Irish Times, BREVITY MagazinePost Road Magazine, and The Rumpus, among many others. She has reviewed books for New York Journal of Books, HTMLGiant, and elsewhere.

She has guest-lectured and/or taught writing at Book Passage, San Francisco State University, the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Festival, among others. Most recently, she served on faculty alongside the Pulitzer Prize-winning authors Jane Smiley, Edward Humes, and Robert Olen Butler, and more, at the winter 2013 Abroad Writers’ Conference in Lismore Castle, Ireland.

She received her MFA in fiction from Mills College, CA, 2004. Raised in Dublin, Ireland, Ethel Rohan now lives in San Francisco where she is a member of The Writers’ Grotto and PEN American Center.

Mel u

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