All posts tagged: Colin Barrett

Young Skins by Colin Barrett | edge of evening

Short stories: ‘Stand Your Skin’ by Colin Barrett

The first in a series of posts highlighting the very best of my short story reading. 1. ‘Stand Your Skin’ by Colin Barrett, published in his 2014 collection Young Skins. “I try to stick to the moment, to the now of the action. Tense is irrelevant. You can do it in the past tense. […] Backstory, exposition, anything that draws back or looks to perspectivize—these hold little interest to me at moment. Not to say that won’t change. Certainly in the short-story form, what attracted me was the way my favorite stories were like a lightning flash. Nothing existed before or after them, and in the instant of their illumination, they are all that exists.”from an interview with Colin Barrett in the Paris Review The stories in Colin Barrett’s debut, Young Skins, are set in the fictional town of Glanbeigh in the west of Ireland. “My town is nowhere you have been,” says the hungover narrator of the opening story, “but you know it’s ilk.” And we do. This is post-recession, small town Ireland. The opportunities for escape are slim. …

short story collections | edge of evening


Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. Stories can wait. Mavis Gallant, 1996 (Preface to her Selected Stories, Bloomsbury 1997) I love short stories. I read them. I buy them. And I really love what Mavis Gallant has to say about them too (so much so, that I’ve quoted her here before). Yes, stories can wait. But then I noticed just how much waiting some of the collections on my short story shelf (you have one too, right?) were doing. Waiting and waiting and waiting. I blame the intimidating heft of some of those collected/selected volumes. What a commitment to start ploughing through all of Cheever or Carver or Maxwell, or even dear Mavis herself. A short story collection works best for me when I read a story a day until it’s done. There’s enough space left around each story (Read one. Shut the book.), but there’s also the sense of …