My review of Nuala O’Connor’s new short story collection appears in today’s Sunday Business Post Magazine. Here’s an excerpt:
These are stories in which trauma obtrudes, often awkwardly, into the textures of quotidian life. Several pieces end with the sudden wrenching intrusion of a painful memory, as when, in “Consolata,” the narrator remembers witnessing her father having sex with a nun, Sister Consolata, in the orchard behind their house. The effect is sometimes powerful, sometimes jarring. In one of the better stories, the McGahernesque “Tinnycross,” there is no clinching revelation: Oliver returns to his family farm to ask his bitter, resentful brother, Bernard, for financial assistance; Bernard’s new wife, Fidelma, offers the promise of a reconciliation between the two brothers. It’s a lovely, carefully balanced piece of work, with some wonderful bits of prose: “a stand of rape burned its yellow among the green and brown,” “The familiarity of everything was both balm and thorn to him.”
If “Tinnycross” stands out, it is because it obeys one of the cardinal rules of short story writing, which is that nothing happening is generally better than something happening […] Most short story collections – even the best – offer an uneven reading experience. In Joyride to Jupiter, the good stories outnumber the less good – and the good stories are very good indeed.