This is Mr. Friel's first published collection of short stories. Although they are a somewhat undistinguished lot of low-keyed, pleasant tales set in the green of Irish countryside, there is a promising understanding of youth's loneliness and the tragic implications of disenchantment. In one of the better stories, Segova the Savage Turk, a young boy idolizes the local muscle-man and aspires to be his apprentice. To do so he must grow the luxuriant and ubiquitous bodily hair which abounds on the Turk. And he must do so overnight...Among the Ruins is a somewhat disappointing story, but here again is some very nice insight into ""the mirage of the past"", into the great divide between the generations. The narrative success of Mr. Friel's The Skelper, in which the Irish poaching laws are once again masterfully evaded, would seem to indicate that this author might do well to involve his characters a little less in contemplation and somewhat more in action and conflict. The man can tell a story. It is unfortunate that he did not choose to do so more often.