Reviewed by: Keith Nixon
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Approximate word count: 40-45,000 words
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Eddie Stack’s work has appeared in a number of collections and anthologies. He has also published a novel, but he specializes in writing short stories and to date published three collections. He teaches at UC Berkeley, California.
You can learn more about the author at his website.
Twelve short stories recounting the experiences of his native Irish people at home and abroad.
This is an interesting collection of quirky stories where the setting switches between Ireland and the US. What remains constant are the characters of Irish descent, snapshots of people’s lives where we drop in and drop out of the action with no preamble.
There are three very strong aspects to Stack’s writing. There’s the dry sense of humour that cuts through all the shorts. When the narrative asks for a suspension of disbelief (e.g. a talking donkey) his writing makes it believable. Second are the characters, the Irish nature remains strong whatever the setting. Finally is the dialogue which encompasses both the above points.
None of the twelve stories are weak, although there are several highlights. In Jackass Blues, a donkey wanders into town and hangs around, watching television until the owner gets fed up and wants the donkey gone. It takes refuge in a church but is eventually captured. Later it seems as if the donkey can talk…
Here’s an example of the writing from the opening paragraph:
During that slow, dark time between New Year and Lent, a black ass sauntered into town. Sleek as a seal, it had the fine features of a thoroughbred and moved gracefully through the streets with a confidence that its working class brethren lack.
The next story is Back in the Days of Corncrakes about a Guinness advert being filmed in a small Irish village. Some locals are roped in to act, but get drunk on free alcohol. It’s well written and funny.
In the final story Out of the Blue a couple from either side of the Atlantic who each believed the other dead are reunited after forty years.
This is a very well written, drily witty collection of short stories that will puzzle you and entertain you. The snapshot element of some of the stories may leave some readers wanting to know more, but this is quality writing.
Nothing of note.
A couple of layout errors, but nothing significant.
Rating: **** 4 Stars