Alan's Reviews > Dark Lies the Island

Dark Lies the Island by Kevin Barry
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's review
Oct 18, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: short-stories, read-in-2012
Read from September 29 to October 03, 2012

great review in the Guardian that compares him to VS Pritchett (one of my favourite writers & I met him once!).

hurray just in at the library. I've now got three great story collections to read. I'm in heaven.
...another superb collection. Will do a review, but so much going on I'm not sure when! (got another three or four to catch up on).

Big bold writing, involving and colourful characters (eg the slightly boorish but love-able blokes on a beer trip, the drunken doctor who takes up community outreach work with an unseen-until-now vigour when he sees a gorgeous traveller woman in town: he feels he must now visit their site in the woods to hand out leaflets, even the seemingly gentle two old biddies who drive around in their battered car to stately homes on Sundays are not what they seem), but also subtleties and nuances within them. Often funny, but again not always: the title story for example is a sombre – and rather beautiful – account of a teenage suicide risk, a rich kid alone in her daddy’s holiday house in Clew Bay, County Mayo. I did feel the ones set outside Ireland were not as successful (apart from the Anglo/Welsh ‘Beer Trip to Llandudno’ which was ace), two in London and one in Berlin.

here's an opening from one story that gives you a good flavour of his stuff:
This is the story of a happy marriage but before you throw up and turn the page let me say that it will end with my face pressed hard into the cold metal of the Volvo’s bonnet, my hands cuffed behind my back, and my rights droned into my ear – this will occur in the car park of a big-box retail unit on the Naas Road in Dublin. (Wifey Redux)

plus I might like him cuz he is the spitting image of a friend of mine (and writer) who died in 2005, Stuart Crees. Here's his picture:


and here's Kevin Barry:

can you spot any difference?
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Reading Progress

09/28/2012 page 100
41.0% "although I'm not reading them in any order, just as I fancy. The characters just bounce out of the book, another fine collection from barry so far."

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Bill (new)

Bill i have pritchett's complete short stories and his complete collected esaays. must get around to reading them soon, although they are both massive books.

i also have his 2 volumes of autobiography.

have never heard of kevin barry, must give him a try someday.

Alan he's not much like VS Pritchett in my opinion, at least not in subject matter or characters (Barry deals with the drugged and poor mainly; Pritchett more with with the middle class, or aspiring m.c.), but they have similar empathy for their protagonists and a great turn of phrase. I'd recommend both. Barry gets four stars because although most stories are first class, one or two did not hit (with me).

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