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 15, 2024

"The Big River" - A Short Story by Desmond Hogan - 2017 - An Irish Short Story Month XIii Post

 Irish Short Story Month XI

Today's Story, "The Big River" is included in the most recent collection of short stories by Desmond Hogan, The History of Magpies.

Shauna Gilligan's Highly Illuminating Introduction to  Desmond Hogan

I have been reading Desmond Hogan for 12  years now.  I take his work very seriously.  I was first introduced to his work by Shauna Gilligan, PhD, author of Happiness Comes From Nowhere.  Through her kindness I met Hogan in May of 2003, at the office of Lilliput Press.  We spoke of two authors for whom we share great admiration, Nathaneal West and Zora Hurston, among other things.

"We were here when the Christians first came to Ireland and we will be here when they leave" - A proverb of Irish Travellers 

A considerable portion of the work of Desmond Hogan focuses on Irish Travellers.  Irish travellers have an ancient history.   They Are  acknowledged as an ethnic group.

Travellers play an important part in "The Big River", numerous suicides mostly by hanging are alluded to in the story,

"‘Shannon Crotty was my cousin. He hung himself. His wife Ethlinn Flavin from Knocknaheeny in Cork hung herself before him. Her brother Besty hung himself in between them. A lot of Travellers are hanging themselves now. One man because he had cancer. A girl because she was pregnant and did not want her father to know it."

(Amusingly in the Comedy TV series Derry Girls Travellers are depicted as dangerous and terrifying.)

Hogan makes extensive use of colour and references to historical-cultural entities in "The Big River" which I find fascinating:

"In their trailer the newly weds had a picture of two elephants kissing, horns wrapped around one another’s trunks: a photograph of Santa Claus presenting a cup for hurling to Shannon as a child, in a black bow tie; the dead Hunger Striker Martin Hurson with miner’s locks, white shirt, white tie, smile reserved for weddings; a statue of Saint Patrick with ashen hair and peach lips; a parrot with flaked red head; a pair of beige polka-dot wellingtons; a donkey and four Edwardian children, boy in young Edward VIII cap, clinging to a little girl’s waist on top of the donkey"

I hope to post on other stories by Desmond Hogan during ISSM XIII.

Mel Ulm

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

How interesting: definitely a worthwhile story!