Top positive review
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More than just another collection of Irish stories about endlessly getting drunk ...
on 28 March 2015
Anyone who grew up, as I did, in a God-forsaken provincial town in Ireland where there isn't much to do except get drunk and where sex, if it ever happens at all, is a squalid, unpleasant, guilty affair, will feel uncomfortably back home, reading these deeply absorbing stories, some of which are very short and some long enough to be called novellas. Colin Barrett plays with language very skilfully: his "Diamonds" begins like a delightful half-parody of Raymond Chandler before settling into a strange, hopeless tale of chaotically large families, illegitimate, unwell chldren, and futile murder. Barrett loves language and can write with great lyricism and playfulness; his ability to describe a face or a person, or a river at night, or a squalid unsuccessful pub, or somebody's Adam's apple, will hold you spellbound and fascinated, but sometimes all of this hopeless pathos, this ultimately barren drinking and kicking, describes an Ireland that feels like the dog-end of a Europe that's come to an end here, petering out until it's washed away in the ocean. You wonder if that's all there is, in those towns; but I find this world of working-class young Irishmen and Irish women, out on an alienated edge where whatever's happening in the world is happening somewhere else, far more gratifying and gutsy than the effete Dublin Thatcherites of other Irish writers like Anne Enright, who praises this book as though she, and not he, were the better writer. I expect and hope for more from Mr. Barrett.