Young Skins

Colin Barrett. Grove/Black Cat, $16 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2332-9
Barrett’s accomplished debut collection, winner of the Guardian First Book Award and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2014, brims with young men affixed to bar stools with drained pint glasses, recalling tales of past failures over pub chatter. The stories’ protagonists function on society’s fringes—as bouncers, washed-up musicians, cheap muscle—yet all eschew the single dimension often reserved for such characters, instead speaking in voices both world-weary and wise, equally confident and lost. In “Stand Your Skin,” a disfigured service-station employee attempts to return to his old haunts after he’s invited to a coworker’s going-away party, only to realize he can’t slip into his former self. “Diamonds” finds a recovering alcoholic tempted to fall off the wagon by a new face at his AA meeting and her exotic stories of diamond mines. The centerpiece of the volume is a masterly novella, “Calm with Horses,” that follows a thug nicknamed Arm while he navigates fatherhood and the anguish of his profession as the right-hand man to a local drug dealer. Moments of violence punctuate several of these stories, but the collection’s true impact comes in the gifted prose of Barrett, which flourishes in poetic and spare scenes; he is an assured, powerful new literary voice. Agent: Lucy Luck Associates. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/19/2015
Release date: 03/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 196 pages - 978-0-8021-9210-3
Hardcover - 192 pages - 978-0-224-10167-7
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-1-906539-27-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-5012-7757-3
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