Young skins by Colin Barrett (Vintage)

young skins

“My town is nowhere you have been, but you know its ilk. A roundabout off a national road, an industrial estate, a five screen Cineplex, a century of pubs packed inside the square mile of the town’s limits. The Atlantic is near, the gnarled jawbone of the coastline with its gull-infested promontories is near.”

THERE is an argument that the short story is a better media for our times, the 45 to the novel’s 33. It fits better with shortened, Facebook attention spans. It transfers to film without shackling the director with too much detail. Calm with Horses here is 70 or so pages but could make a fine script if the evangelical ending is not too daunting.

The other stories are all from the same constituency, the same era revolving around that great Irish theme: those who stay behind and those who leave, “the hard scrabble tutelage of those who come out of the other side of their damage.” And we are back in Enniscorthy and Roscommon, the next generation on from Colm Toibin where “households team with ever expanding factions of brothers and sisters”.

These are the tiger children, a norties generation, a feral community where adults have largely been overrun, a kind of Lord of the Flies 2015. “Beyond a certain age all old dears, looked the same”.

We have a funeral cameo, a mine, a murderous macabre, we meet Mattan the pool shark, Tansy the psycho, Minion, an expert bar-grift and the lovers of rock star Maryanne. The dialogue is all brogue wit. This is a suicide note: “I am going to put myself to sleep for a bit longer than usual. Call it eternity”.

Or this snappy description:

“One’s a Connolly, spotty faced like a dropped bolognese…”

It is a land, as Ursula tells us “where everyone deserves better.”

We have another Irish talent, of serious note.


About drewsmith28

Words, words, words...
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