Alan's Reviews > There are Little Kingdoms: Stories

There are Little Kingdoms by Kevin Barry
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's review
Feb 17, 12

bookshelves: short-stories, read-in-2012
Read from January 30 to February 06, 2012

lovely book of stories, almost sketches really and some may find their thirst for plot and closure and such like unquenched. I'm not bothered by all that, I just enjoyed the character studies, the drinking, the folly, the (hard won)resignation, the thwarted sexual desires. Just like real life. More later (and some quotes). I know I'm falling behind on my reviews... I will catch up..

.. here's a bit more:

It is set mostly in small town Ireland (Galway is mentioned in one), but there are a couple (at the end) not – one set in Cumbria, another on an ice floe where passengers from a plane that has a forced landing have to line up. But mostly they concern farmers, or farm labourers (and not prosperous farmers: Meadowsweet Farm is put together out of breeze blocks, barbed wire and galvanised tin. The land is flat and featureless. There are sawn-off barrels with rancid rainwater. A snapped cable cracks like a whip and lifts sparks from a dismal concrete yard - the electrics are haywire. The septic tank is backed up.. There is a general sensation of slurry.), pub workers, dreamers, students, losers. Everybody’s had disappointment. They are mostly ‘realistic’ but one of the stories features a (cynical) genie and another someone who can tell futures from touching palms. Somehow these excursions beyond the real only serve to make the people and their fate more grim, not less. Often there is a glimpse of what could be – the glamorous woman who stops off in the delapidated pub who seemingly appreciates the slow afternoon of drinking, and the woman in England who proposes to turn the ramshackle family home into a mini-hotel and has invited a TV makeover programme to come and film it, much to the disappointment of her resigned father (Wifeless ten years, at large in the ancient house, prey to odd shudders in the small hours, Freddie Bliss had more or less given up on the idea of sleep. Subsequently he had gone a little daft). You soon realise that the makeover may not go as smoothly as planned.

Good stuff, I’m going to look out for his novel now.
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