A story collection in which the nights of small-town Ireland are filled with the ramblings of restless youth.
Glanbeigh is a fictional town in County Mayo, and the teens and 20-somethings are out in droves to take back the night. The pub is the center of their world. In “The Clancy Kid,” Jimmy and his mate Tug drink off a hangover and flip the car of an ex’s new fiance: “I am young, and the young do not number many here, but it is fair to say we have the run of the place.” And so Jimmy sets the hopeless tone, yet there are moments of delight as Tug, a hulk of a boy-man who gets violent when off his meds, plays with a child who guards the bridge to Farrow Hill, playing at being ''king.'' In “Bait,” a night of pool hustling turns into sudden violence in a turn-the-tables sexual confrontation. In ''Stand Your Skin,'' Bat is a damaged man, kicked in the head in a pub in a moment of senseless violence between a bunch of college kids and locals. The kicker, “who couldn’t stand being in his own skin,” commits suicide while Bat has to remain in pain, living in the surgically corrected skin of his own face. This is a powerful dark shadow of a tale, the heart of this collection of six stories and one longer novella. Barrett knows the woods and roads surrounding Glanbeigh as well as he understands the youth who roam them. This is his territory, his people. He writes with beauty and a toughness that captures the essence of boredom and angst.
Barrett has given us moments that resonate true to a culture, a population and a geography that are fertile with the stuff of good fiction.