Stories by Colin Barrett
Paperback: €12.99 (3rd printing, signed by author)
Winner of the 2014 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award
Winner of the 2014 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature
Winner of the 2014 Guardian first book award
A recovering addict drifts closer to the oblivion he’d hoped to avoid by returning to his home town; two estranged friends hide themselves away in a darkened pub, reluctant to attend the funeral of the woman they both loved; a bouncer who cannot envisage a world beyond the walls of the small town nightclub his life revolves around.
Set for the most part in the fictional County Mayo town of Glanbeigh, Colin Barrett’s stories deftly explore the wayward lives and loves of young men and women in contemporary post-boom Ireland. Young Skins offers an utterly unique reading experience and marks the appearance of an arresting and innovative new voice in Irish writing.
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).
Colin received bursaries from the Arts Council in 2011 and 2013. This is his first collection of stories.
You can follow Colin on Twitter: @ColinBarrett82
a stunning debut… all seven tales converge towards one singular theme: the failure constantly lurking in the shadows of the human condition. The timeless nature of each story means this collection can – and will – be read many years from now.
JP O'Malley, The Sunday Times
The most underpraised of the Irish newcomers, Young Skins is a fine collection dominated by the novella 'Calm With Horses', a bravura performance in which Barrett simply outwrites many of his peers with a chilling confidence that suggests there is far more beneath the surface than merely the viciously effective black humour.
Barrett's use of language is powerful and surprising – he talks about the "vasculature" of pipes on the underside of an upturned car, and a character worries that people are watching "the bulky hydraulics of his jaw" as he eats his dinner. These stories are moving and memorable and show a writer who understands people, place and the effects of porter on the human psyche.
It isn’t necessarily the job of fiction writers to explain our social landscape, but sometimes the best of them do. Colin Barrett’s short, brutal collection of stories presents clearly and without sentimentality a picture of the young Irish small-town male, in his current crisis of hopelessness and alienation.
These stories, exploring male friendship and often unrequited love convey the atmosphere of post-boom Ireland quite wonderfully. With little lucrative employment, the protagonists struggle on as best they can, seeing no way out…
I loved these stories, and empathised with every one of the protagonists. I like the way they challenge the readers’ prejudices and leave them wanting more. The writing is superlative. Every sentence counts. We’ll be hearing a lot more from Colin Barrett.
Sue Leonard, Books Ireland
Sheena Davitt, The Metro Herald (4-star review)
Set, in the main, in Barrett’s home county of Mayo, in the fictional town of Glanbeigh, the book’s seven stories give us glimpses into the despairing, loving lives of a clutch of hopeless cases; like Dubliners before it, it tracks its characters first through youth and beyond into a less frantic, more contemplative (if equally screwed-up) middle age... What’s particularly exciting about Barrett’s work, though, isn’t his plotting (good as it is) or his settings (rock-solid and gritty) or even his idiolect (‘There was the wishbone snap of his nose breaking and the old man was clean out’.) or his dialect (‘Hector was awful itchy on the phone. Short and itchy,’ Dympna said.‘): his huge talent is in characterisation, in his ability to sketch a personality and a circumstance, tease the reader into making a judgment, and then wrench it all about ninety degrees... Potentially the best collection we’ll read all year: a massive new talent, and stories that will make you yearn and nod and cry.
Valerie O'Riordan, Bookmunch
This collection is a sustained and brilliant performance by a young writer of remarkable talent and confirmation that Colin is a writer of significance with something important to say... [It] is Colin’s mastery of characterisation and his seemingly endless ability to surprise us with the poetry and linguistic inventiveness of his prose that elevates these stories into deftly crafted works of art that are a pleasure to read from start to finish.
Andrew McEneff, Short Story Ireland