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Collected Stories

4.29  ·  Rating Details ·  383 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
The definitive collection of short stories by a master of the form and one of Ireland’s most celebrated authors

This indispensable volume contains the best of Frank O’Connor’s short fiction. From “Guests of the Nation” to “The Mad Lomasneys” to “First Confession” to “My Oedipus Complex,” these tales of Ireland have touched generations of readers the world over and placed
Paperback, 720 pages
Published August 12th 1982 by Vintage (first published 1966)
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Best Irish Literature
63rd out of 446 books — 538 voters
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Community Reviews

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Disclaimer: ARC read via Netgalley and Open Road Media.

Certain places enter the imagination, and for whatever reason Ireland is one of those places. Perhaps more recently, those views have been influenced by such shows as Ballykissangel, or movies such as Undine. Who knows? Perhaps Yeats had something to do with it. Or perhaps, most likely, it is because of the Diaspora that occurred in the country.

O’Connor’s short stories speak to the reader because while they are Ireland, they are also every
Jul 15, 2007 David rated it it was amazing
Shelves: top-20
If you aren't already familiar with the short stories of Frank O' Connor, do yourself a favor, and buy this (relatively fat) collection. His stories will make you laugh ("First Confession"), weep ("Guests of the Nation", one of the most powerful anti-war stories I've ever read), or just lose yourself in the humanity of his characters. Although, in my opinion, the stories of Seán Ó Faoláin are slightly more nuanced and psychologically perceptive, it's a close call. Both authors are to be ...more
Donna Davis
What an unpretentious little book, and who would have dreamed it would be so full of first-rate short stories? Mr. O’Connor wrote from the 1930’s to the 1960’s, and may be one of the finest writers Ireland has produced, which is saying a great deal. Thank you and thank you again to Open Road Media and Net Galley for the ARC. It’s been a real joy to read!

O’Connor’s early life was marked by alcoholism and domestic violence, and he tosses these into the stewpot of his stories that is so congenial,
Sep 20, 2012 Leslie rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful collection of stories. The voice is inviting and very Irish; when I tried reading passages out loud I found myself falling into a (bad) Irish accent, because the rhythms of the language just seem to push the voice into those patterns. The stories are almost entirely set in the area in and around Cork in the first half of the twentieth century. His favourite subjects are the lives of priests and children, and the effects on ordinary people of the Irish civil war and struggles ...more
Nov 04, 2007 Ryan rated it it was amazing
My mother used to read me his stories when I was a kid - I especially loved "First Confession." His beautifully written, mostly autobiographical stories are a perfect balance of sentiment and humor.
Oct 26, 2010 Pamela rated it it was amazing
Read this collection--it's a master class on how to craft the short story.

(I have a weakness for Irish literature--O'Connor, James Joyce, Edna O'Brian, and William Trevor are masterful writers).
Sep 06, 2007 Kecia rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The voice! The humor! The characters! The voice! Talk about "writing what you know"...and mining your culture for all that it's worth...O'Connor's stories are wonderful.
Lowell Brower
May 10, 2007 Lowell Brower rated it it was amazing
My answer to the question "What is a short story?": "Guests of the Nation."
Sep 23, 2011 Tuck rated it it was amazing
i'm not really reading, i'm LISTENING to Miette read them to me
Jan 07, 2015 Meghan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014
So I love Frank O'Connor. He wrote my favourite short story that I read in my teens (My Oedipus Complex) and my favourite short story I read in my twenties (Guests of the Nation) (fun and embarrassing me-fact: I did not realize it was the same Frank O'Connor who wrote both these stories until I was, maybe, 26). On more than one occasion, I've lamented that they don't teach Frank O'Connor much in school (maybe they do in Ireland, but not here in Canada). Instead, I had five years of our ...more
Aug 17, 2014 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I received an ARC of this book from Open Road Integrated Media through NetGalley.

The first story in the collection, “Guests of the Nation”, is arguably one of his most famous. Four men are sitting around a cottage playing cards, talking and relaxing with each other and their hostess who is a kind old lady. It becomes apparent from the story that two of the men are English and are actually being held as captive by the other two characters in the story who are presumably IRA soldiers. The juxtapos
May 02, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
This is a great collection of almost 70 stories by an Irish master. I picked up this volume in advance of attending a scientific conference in Armagh, Northern Ireland, last summer with the idea of spending some free evenings in a genuine Irish pub reading Irish short stories. I quickly discovered, however, that the lighting in Irish pubs is more conducive to telling stories (after a pint or two of Smithwick's or Guinness of course!) than to reading stories. So instead I have enjoyed slowly ...more
Mar 24, 2008 Paula rated it really liked it
Became more and more repetitive the longer I read... Then again, these stories are mainly autobiographically inspired, if not, strictly-speaking, autobiographical pieces separately. And anyone who's studied O'Connor knows that the majority of the second-half of his life focused on his marriages, divorces, trips to America, and that's what we get here. One really good thing is that pretty much all of O'Connor's essays can be found in this collection, so this is ideal for a scholar of Irish ...more
Jul 27, 2016 The_poor_mouth rated it it was amazing
One of a handful of books I wish to have with me at all times. O'Connor is a born storyteller, and uses his natural, verbal gift to best effect in his stories of confused children, unwed daughters, and priests of low esteem. Bizet once said of Saint-Saens that he lacked nothing but inexperience; O'Connor has everything and inexperience to boot. His phrases can sometimes seem clumsily chosen, but the effect is always studied, re-written, edited for clumsiness, where any other writer would treat ...more
Simon A. Smith
May 22, 2009 Simon A. Smith rated it liked it
Shelves: short-fiction
Some of these tales (they really are "tales") are pretty good, like "My Oedipus Complex," and "Guest of a Nation," are really good, but overall, I found O'Connor to be a bit dull and repetitive. The stories are slow moving and they all seem to blur together, most of the characters in the stories even have the same names as the ones before it. If someone had only handed me a few of his best works, I'd probably come away feeling like he was a highly masterful writer, but I'd suggest staying away ...more
Kelby Cotton
Oct 01, 2013 Kelby Cotton rated it it was amazing
Why is it that the two people who have written the finest short stories in the English language both have the last name of O'Connor? Flannery and Frank write in ways that are both sumptuous and spare. The story lines and characterizations and settings of both writers are rich. Yet the language, syntax and wording are so tightly interwoven that scarcely a word, let alone a full sentence could be changed without diminishing the whole. Frank O'Connor is enough of a magician to create happiness in ...more
Aug 11, 2014 Alonzo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I didn't read all the stories, but that wasn't my aim when I borrowed it this book from the library. I love O'Connors work and I will read all of these at some point. I had to return the book to the library, so, I read a good number of them, mostly to learn from him. One could do worse for a teacher of writing short stories.

Some place Frank O'Connor in the ranks with James Joyce. I agree. His stories give a look at Irish life during the time of his writing. And, many of them are humorous and poi
Aug 11, 2014 Mandy rated it it was amazing
This is exactly what it says it, the collected stories from Frank O’Connor’s long and illustrious career. Considered one of Ireland’s, and indeed the world’s, best short story writers, this collection offers the reader stories that will delight and sadden and enlighten, and although in any comprehensive collection covering so many years, there are inevitably some that are less successful than others, or some that simply appeal to some readers less than others , nevertheless there are hours of ...more
May 25, 2011 Tim rated it liked it
Shelves: school-reading
An enjoyable, quaint look into the nuances of life in Ireland. I only read a few of the stories, but "First Confession" and "My Oedipus Complex" stand out most. O'Connor's characters grapple with life questions and encounter various struggles. These stories are one of a kind, and have some to say that's worth listening to. There's a bit of that quintessential magic contained in this collection that's unique to the Emerald Isle and the works of the writers it produces.
Laura Hancock
May 23, 2015 Laura Hancock rated it it was ok
I hate being a quitter but I quit this book. It's too depressing. I quit, being only about 303 pages into the 701-page book. But I have been trying to finish it since 2010. I just can't. After 300 pages, I think I've read enough of O'Connor's short stories to get the point: Ireland is dreary, Catholic, repressive, rainy. This is like Frank McCourt, minus the beautiful writing and redemption in the end. I'm doing some spring cleaning, and this book is going out.
Mar 29, 2012 Nikki rated it it was amazing
Perhaps the best writer I've ever read at mastering the child's perspective. The stories are so funny and heartwarming and it astounds me how O'Connor can speak so authentically from that imaginative, innocent but knowing place. Christmas Morning is one of my all time favorites, and First Confession is darling.
Jun 06, 2008 Jenny rated it really liked it
I started reading Frank O'Connor's short stories after my trip to Ireland with the Harnetts. For the most part, they depict slices of Irish life in the early 20th century, including issues of family, emigration, and of course, the Church. Some are wickedly funny, and others poingant.
Yvette Ward-Horner
Sep 11, 2009 Yvette Ward-Horner rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
I've read this book 2 or 3 times and it remains one of my favorite collections of all time. Frank O'Connor's stories are savagely funny, and they leave you thinking in an Irish accent for days after you turn the last page.
Oct 09, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing

Simply masterful. An amazing capacity to suggest through described detail the most complex and intertwined inner feelings, states, conflicts....long, but totally enjoyable - some of these stories can put you on your knee.
Aug 18, 2008 Marianne rated it it was amazing
Many, many college literature students have been introduced to the brilliance of Mr. O'Connor's gifts. I was one such lucky gal and I am forever grateful to that professor for the introduction! Read him!!!!!!!
May 17, 2010 Joan rated it really liked it
I'm not usually a short story reader, but Frank O'Connor was on my list of Irish authors to be read before my trip, and he is a master of the art. "Guests of the Nation" is a stunning anti-war sentiment; "First Confession", an amusing childhood memory.
Jul 24, 2008 Hawkgrrrl rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite book of all time. Frank O'Connor avoids trying to boil the ocean instead finding the humanity in the drab little lives of Dubliners. His humor is subtle and you can't help but love his characters for all their imperfections.
Jan 04, 2008 Rachael rated it it was ok
I liked the stories in this collection but I thought they all sounded so similar to each other that I didn't make it all the way through.
Jillian King
Jul 29, 2009 Jillian King rated it it was amazing
"Guests of a Nation" has to be one of the very best short stories ever to be written. Gives Joyce a run for his (short story) money.
Jan 23, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
A master of the short story. Pick up a copy and read it, especially with St. Patrick's Day coming. I don't suppose Ireland is like this anymore, but the characters and dialogue are priceless.
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Frank O’Connor (born Michael Francis O'Connor O'Donovan) was an Irish author of over 150 works, who was best known for his short stories and memoirs. Raised an only child in Cork, Ireland, to Minnie O'Connor and Michael O'Donovan, his early life was marked by his father's alcoholism, indebtness and ill-treatment of his mother.

He was perhaps Ireland's most complete man of letters, best known for hi
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“I was a great believer in hot buttered toast at all hours of the day.” 5 likes
“a grin that wasn't natural, and that combined in a strange way affection and arrogance, the arrogance of the idealist who doesn't realize how easily he can be fooled.” 3 likes
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