Dark Lies the Island: Stories

Graywolf. Sept. 2013. 192p. ISBN 9781555976514. $24. F
OrangeReviewStarBarry offers a second story collection that offers all the best qualities of his IMPAC award-winning debut novel, City of Bohane—the dark humor, apt characterization, and sharply condensed emotion, so well contained by the beautiful sentences. Some of the stories artfully offer whole communities. In "Fjord of Killary," for instance, a narrator full of romantic idealism and the desire to remake himself has bought an old hotel in the wet west of Ireland and now finds that he despises the very rag with which he mops the bar. He senses that he's despised in turn by the crusty, exasperating locals, who think he acts superior. But during a particularly bad storm, as the water rises dangerously, the regulars in the bar explode into a round of dancing, and the whole story captures the darkness and exuberance of the Irish spirit. Other stories are fine portraits, as in "Across the Rooftops," which tenderly depicts a shy young man attempting a first kiss.
VERDICT Highly recommended for lovers of short stories, Irish literature, and good reading generally.
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