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Space to Think, a new book celebrating ten years of the Dublin Review of Books More Information 

Surge

New Writing from Ireland
Publisher
O’Brien Press
Price
€11.99
ISBN
9781847176936

 

EXTRACT COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL

From the Introduction by Frank McGuiness:

I know a woman who flung a brick through her partner's window. When confronted why, she explained she wanted to make sure they would answer the door — there were times you had to do more than knock. I find that incident an inspiration. While the most adroit of writers in this genre can achieve effects of breathtaking subtlety, I'd still maintain in every successful short story you can find, among delicate shards of glass, that solid brick, threatening, wonderful, ready to propel itself, if necessary, into one's imagination, doing damage, external and internal, and, unlike most novels, not remotely bothered to care what consequent healing may be necessary. There is then a ruthlessness about the form, and its style is a matter of how that ruthlessness disguises itself.

The stories in this collection come from students in creative-writing courses at master's level in Queen's University Belfast; Trinity College, Dublin; University College Cork; National University of Ireland, Galway; and University College Dublin. Two students from each institution have submitted work, as has a mentor of their writing. I am not going to spoil any shocks or spike any guns loaded within by detailing plots or revealing characters that populate these pages, but I will say if this assembly proves anything, it is that, even on the most cursory of readings, there is evidence of a remarkable complexity and sophistication of voices and visions emerging out of our colleges. Each story surprises by reason of its difference from what proceeds and precedes it in the order of the book. Taken together, these fictions entertain like the best of conversations, each woman and man holding their own corner, saying what it is they have to say, and not one outstaying their welcome. They know by instinct how to keep their counsel, most tantalisingly and most beguilingly when they really should not do so, leaving the reader's tongue hanging out for more, and, with genuinely Irish hospitality, not obliging.

There is nothing worse than a story overstuffing itself. No fear of that here. This is writing that marks austere times by its economy, and so it proves itself to be all the more genuinely sympathetic to those afflicted by the history, past, present and to come, of that financial deluge. Every single piece of fiction here in its diverse way stands as a metaphor of the profound change, the seismic change, our culture has undergone these past years. Wounds, visible and invisible, are detected; their trauma is the touch from which there is no recovery. In the best possible sense, this is art of its time.

And the old school out there will surely be delighted that these folk provide sound moral guidance to all aspiring writers. What is this moral? Find your brick, smash a window, leg it. The window should, of course, be your own, so return to collect and do what you must with its pieces.