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Young Skins

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,270 ratings  ·  185 reviews
Making a remarkable entrance onto the Irish and UK literary scene with rave reviews in The Sunday Times and The Guardian, Colin Barrett’s Young Skins is a stunning introduction to a singular voice in contemporary fiction.

Enter the small, rural town of Glanbeigh, a place whose fate took a downturn with the Celtic Tiger, a desolate spot where buffoonery and tension simmer an
Paperback, 211 pages
Published March 3rd 2015 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published September 16th 2013)
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Robert He has a short story, The Alps, published in Harper's Magazine /August 2019. Highly recommended.

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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  1,270 ratings  ·  185 reviews

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My town is nowhere you have been, but you know its ilk.

3.5 stars, rounded up because it's not the author's fault that i have already read The Spinning Heart, which is the (unfairly high) standard i must now judge all irish post-celtic tiger story collections against.

these stories are all more than competent on their own, but i kept (again - unfairly) wanting them to bleed into each other, to connect, to have characters resurface in other stories in a significant way. and that's one of those back
Paula Kalin
An extraordinary debut of contemporary short stories by Irish author, Colin Barrett, winner of the Frank O’Connor Irish Short Stories and the Rooney Prize. Set in Glanbeigh, Ireland, his characters show the downtrodden side of Irish society. Barrett’s prose is sharp, vibrant, and moody. Crass at times, but brilliant.

What a very fine voice to enter the contemporary Irish literary world.

Highly recommend.

5 out of 5 stars
Elyse Walters
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is another book I’ve wanted to read for ages.... the time finally arrived!

“Young Skins” is a collection of short stories - 6 stories and 1 novella - a debut which won several impressive book awards including The Frank O’Conner International Short Story Award and The Rooney Prize for Irish Literature.

Colin Barrett’s stories, although each very different, have a running theme throughout: failure is hiding in the shadows of these men and women who live in the small town of Glanbeigh....( a f
Oct 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Colin Barrett has a stunning way with words. Some of these sentences are unbearably beautiful. As such I can absolutely see why this collection comes this highly praised. But, for me personally, the stories were just too bleak in the end and in their bleakness too similar to each other.

The stories focus young men and not so young men who for one reason or the other are unhappy in their lives. There is a sense of hopelessness that infuses these stories, a sense of roads not taken and lives not li
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, irish, short-stories
In the vein of authors like Donal Ryan and Lisa McInerney, Colin Barrett has a gift for conjuring quiet scenes from small-town Irish life that bristle with a kind of dormant tension. Young Skins is a collection of seven short stories that all take place in the same town, and often the same pub, with a few overlapping characters, but which mostly stand on their own. Each story focuses on a male protagonist, usually young, all in some way navigating working class life, post-Ireland's financial col ...more
Diane S ☔
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
3.5 Quite a few good stories by this up and coming Irish writer. Stuck in a Irish town with boarded up windows for store fronts and little or no job opportunity besides hanging, playing pool etch these young men and women spend endless days trying to outwit boredom and the nullifying effects of sameness. Some hang on to long to past relationships and dreams, others kind of step in place, just going through motions, preserving, denying their bleak outlook. What saves these scenarios are some cunn ...more
Larry H
Sep 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'd rate this 4.5 stars.

Gritty, sometimes bleak, but full of well-developed characters and emotions, the stories in Colin Barrett's collection Young Skins are tremendously compelling and memorable.

Set in the small Irish town of Glanbeigh, Barrett's stories evoke the weariness one feels when they have spent most of their life in one place, with the same people, following the same path they always have. Sometimes his characters are down on their luck, sometimes their facing a major crossroads, a
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommended to TL by: karen
A fabulous collection of stories... just like with Welcome Thieves , there's a grittiness and rawness to the stories that pulls you in...even if you didn't like the people or what they did.

Most of the stories were easy to get lost in, even the ones I didn't like as much... in their own way.

One story in particular (Calm with Horses ) was good but it felt like a couple endings happened before the actual one happened. A couple moments in that one seemed particularly tragic to me, in different ways.
Peter Boyle
Jan 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: irish, short-stories
My God, these stories are dispiriting! Maybe they hit a little bit too close to home for me. Like these characters I come from a small village in the west of Ireland so I recognise some of the sense of hopelessness, disillusionment and despair described in these pages. That's also my one major criticism. Barrett focuses exclusively on the no-hopers, the deadbeats - people who live their whole blinkered life in the same place. But rural Ireland is not entirely the relentlessly bleak picture he pa ...more
Barrett presents six short stories and one novella about the residents of a small rural town in Ireland. Here are sad, lonely and disappointed people whose lives didn't turn out quite like they'd hoped. There's not much to do but hang at the pub, looking for adventure, love or at least a temporary thrill.

The stories are dark and happy endings rarer that a sunny day, yet an underlying comic tone keeps the mood from becoming too bleak.

This is an excellent debut by a writer with a bright future.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emma Flanagan
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-lit-read
"My town is nowhere you have been, but you know its ilk. A roundabout off a national road, an industrial estate, a five-screen Cineplex, a century of pubs packed inside the square mile of the town's limits. The Atlantic is near; the gnarled jawbone of the coastline with its gull-infested promontories is near. Summer evenings, and the manure-scented pastures of the satellite parishes Zen bovines lift their heads to contemplate the V8 howls of the boy racers tearing through the back lanes."

This is
J.S. Dunn
Sep 11, 2015 rated it liked it
The stories have an elegantly terse style and there is much to be admired, but one cannot make a chamber orchestra by playing one, or at best two, instruments.

Barrett is short of insight about life, particularly those outside his age group. He dismisses the elderly, and women, with pejorative nicknames; he relegates them to the shadows of his stories except for two Mad Sweeney types--old men who still are only cameos. He's got the bleak rural Irish town setting right but this volume does not dep
Nov 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie
Recommended to Laura by: Barbara
Opening lines:
I left the city with my connections scorched and my prospects blown, looking only for somewhere to batten down for the winter to come. I left in a bright morning in August, dozing fitfully as the train drifted through the purgatorial horizons of the midlands heading west.

You may read online at The Guardian.
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-reads
A good read for the authors first book of short stories. The stories themselves are current, often humerous tales of life in rural communities in Ireland. I could relate to some of the stories where on a Sunday evening, nothing else to be doing except driving around town with your friends, ending up in the local pub playing pool.
His writing needs a bit of refinement(or editing) but definitely one to watch
Jul 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really outstanding collection of short stories!
This is a new Irish writer and his first published collection but my goodness
his writing is just awesome!

Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short story collection, set in the fictional Mayo town of Glanbeigh, won the Guardian First Book Award in 2014, as well as two other major awards, so it was one that I was looking forward to reading.

I have to admit that it wasn't really until the third story that I got into the collection, but from then on became invested in the narratives of the varying characters. Glanbeigh is portrayed as a bleak place, a place where anyone successful in education leaves, and most of the characters portr
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit that when I first started reading this book I let out a bit of a sigh, "the language is too flamboyant" was my first thought and I began to dread the rest of the book. I was fairly delighted when the stories themselves turned it around for me.
There is a menacing tone reverberating throughout the stories as they unfold the lives of those trapped in the average and isolated Irish town. As far fetch as some of the characters are, some even psychotic, it is still an accurate depiction.
I t
Daniel Simmons
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
This author's got talent, and grit, and a feel for characterization and form and (usually) natural dialogue and all the other things that go into crafting a solid short story. But the fact is that no story in this collection is especially memorable. Overhyped.
Rebecca McNutt
Full of Irish culture, these fantastic short stories are all completely different and very imaginative. Some of them are very profound, yet the book never stoops to pretentiousness.
Emily (Falling for YA)
May 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: library
I wanted to read something serious and true to life. I saw this book on LitHub and decided to give it a go. This group of short stories was just that, serious and real. The problem was that like real life it was a bit boring. I had to push myself through the long story in the middle and it was one of the better one. I also wish there had been more of an interconnection between stories.

This was a well written, but so-so read for me.
Jake Goretzki
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Splendid. Raw, bleak, kitchen sink and very much of our times. This is the recessionary landscape that very few write about. Funnily enough, the other writer who does stand out in my memory as writing about it is also Irish and small town (Donal Ryan) - and the UK's finest answer, Jon McGregor, is on the blurb of this one.

What a setting. There's the familiar sense of the 'badlands' and below the surface violence throughout - booze, violence, petty crime and incest. I don't think anyone serves t
Kim Bishop
Aug 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I saw/heard Colin Barrett read his work at last year's Charleston Festival and was impressed, particularly since he had to compete with a herd of cows mooing outside. I enjoyed these stories but they are pretty bleak and present his characters' lives in a grimly humorous and often disturbing way. I was reminded slightly of some of Ian McKewen's early stories which have a similar edge of nastiness to them. I do feel I'd like to read something a little more uplifting next. I agree with another rev ...more
Wow. Are there any Irish writers out there who *aren’t* expert wielders of clever, aching lyricism? I hope I never find them.

Barrett’s writing is as lyrical as all of the blurbs on the cover promised. But I was a jerk in the fact that initially I kept comparing the stories to those of Barrett’s compatriot, Kevin Barry, who can, just in a few sentences, evoke the shit out of a scene—frustrations built up, hurts experienced, whole lives lived, basically. But I couldn’t help it; the first few stor
Jan 19, 2017 rated it liked it
So I'd really give this 3.5 stars. On one hand, you have stories depicting the lower class of small town Ireland, that feel similar to Andrea Arnold's films' focus on poverty-stricken communities in England or the US. The specificity and and humanity given to these characters is always welcome. On the other hand, this is a very typical masculine/male-focused, to the expense of female characters, kind of a collection. The women in these stories are nags, sluts, or objects of lust with only a few ...more
Kevin Doyle
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of best collections of short stories to come out of Ireland in a decade or more. Striking in terns style, language, voice and vision. The stories capture the hunger of the human soul while the writing delivers for the most part in what is a gutsy debut. Deservedly the winner of Frank O'Connor Award for 2014.
Belinda Carvalho
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
another brilliant book in the recent trend of Irish lit, where writers look at the various underbellies of Irish life. It is vivid, visceral, at times surreal but always anchored in true Irish experience. I found the stories evoked so many memories of things that are particular to Irish culture, the turn of phrase, everything. My favourite stories were Stand Your Skin and Calm with Horses,
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this collection of short stories. They paint a vivid picture of life in any small town (I would imagine) located in rural Ireland. The character development in all of them was impressive. The author was able to accomplish in each story what many writers cannot in a novel. I kept hoping that the stories would connect through the characters ... that they would resurface in more than one of the stories. There was a combination of darkness and humor in each of these stories which was very ...more
Max Müller
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely worth reading. I read it in German which was I guess was a bit of a loss to the full potential the book has BUT it is still a great read. If you grew up in a small town or somewhere in the countryside you will definitely find yourself in the book or a familiar feeling/scenario.
Emily Polson
I've been going around saying I don't like short stories, but I liked these. I think my favorites were "The Clancy Kid" and "Diamonds." These certainly lend themselves to a literary reading; I annotated some and would revisit this.
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Colin Barrett was born in 1982 and grew up in County Mayo. In 2009 he completed his MA in Creative Writing at University College Dublin and was awarded the Penguin Ireland Prize. His work has been published in The Stinging Fly magazine and in the anthologies, Sharp Sticks, Driven Nails (Stinging Fly Press, 2010) and Town and Country (Faber and Faber, 2013).
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“It is Sunday. The weekend, that three-day festival of attrition, is done. Sunday is the day of purgation and redress; of tenderised brain cases and see-sawing stomachs and hollow pledges to never, ever get that twisted again.” 4 likes
“it is soothing to listen to the radio static bristle of the rushing water.” 0 likes
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