“I am young, and the young do not number many here, but it is fair to say we have the run of the place.” So begins Irish writer Colin Barrett’s sharp and lively debut Young Skins (Black Cat), six short stories and one novella set in contemporary, rural Ireland. Peopled by men with names like Arm, Bat, and Tug, they are the local voices of the fictional Glanbeigh and towns beyond, a place where boredom and melancholia mix dangerously with alcohol and muscle, and men die of stubbornness. Winner of the 2014 Frank O’Connor Award, the 32-year-old Barrett’s stories speak to the ennui felt by the youths of post Celtic Tiger Ireland. Like the enormous, clouded Midlands skies, it is a feeling “brimming with whatever rain is before it becomes rain.” It’s a rough, charged, and surprisingly fun read.
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