cover image Homesickness


Colin Barrett. Grove, $27 (224p) ISBN 978-0-8021-5964-9

Barrett (Young Skins) returns with a set of bittersweet and chiseled tales of Irish life. Each story coolly dissects various disappointments, tragedies, and eccentrics, avoiding epiphanies in favor of quiet, suggestive endings. In the opener, “A Shooting in Rathreedane,” even-keeled police sergeant Jackie Noonan responds to the shooting of a petty criminal. While attempting to save his life, Noonan treats him with tenderness, but later can’t help feeling ambivalent about his survival. In the slightly surreal and funny “The Alps,” a highlight, three brothers encounter a sword-wielding man at their local watering hole. The sharp-edged “Anhedonia, Here I Come” features an unaccomplished poet who, despite making good money drawing pornographic commissions—“the purest perverts longed for their own species of the poetic, for the incarnation of the inconsummatable”—clings to his versifying dreams. And in “The 10,” football prodigy Danny Faulkner returns to his hometown and his high school sweetheart after a stint in Manchester United’s youth academy. Back home, Danny fends off the recruiting efforts of the local men’s team, while his weekend plans consist of watching workers affix new blades to the wind farm’s turbines—a far cry from the Premier League. From gritty realism to oddball noir, this assured collection demonstrates the talent of a distinctive writer. (May)