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March 17, 2021


#ReadingIrelandMonth21 Irish Short Stories

by N@ncy

  1. There is nothing more soothing than reading Irish short stories
  2. at 0400 am when you are jolted out of sleep.
  3. Claire Keegen, John McGahern and William Trevor guided me
  4. back into a ‘literary dream world.”
  5. PLAN:
  6. I’m reading 3 short story collections.
  7. By rotating one story from each book I want to feel
  8. …the different writing styles.
  9. List of Challenges 2021
  10. Monthly plan
  11. List of Plays
  12. #ReadingIrelandMonth21 @cathy746books




  1. I will have to choose William Trevor the best of these three writers.
  2. His stories are moving, concise tightly structured and still in just a
  3. few short pages he manages to present “living and breathing’ characters.
  4. #Bravo
  5. John McGahern was so disappointing.
  6. His novels and memoir are much better.
  7. McGahern’s strenght is his novels and he tries to
  8. explore multiple events with a complex plot in a short story.
  9. It just does not work. McGhahen should stick to his day job…novels.
  10. Claire Keegan is a rising star!!
  11. Keegan’s writing is delicate: not prudish, but exact.
  12. I look forward to reading ALL her books!
  13. #BestIsYetToCome


My Notes:

Keegan: The Parting Gift

  1. Strong pointindelible images
  2. her father’s shadow crossed the floor — puppies — and a bathroom stall at an airport
  3. Strong point:  the small details
  4. “The saucepan boils
  5. …three eggs knock against each other. One cracked, a ribbon of streaming white.”
  6. “…cord of the electric heater swinging out like a tail from under the bed.”
  7. Ms Keegan uses a first person “observer”. But restricting the viewpoint to the “observer”it
  8. actually makes the protagonist (we don’t even learn her name) more mysterious.
  9. She remains a mystery because we have no access to her  innermost thoughts and feelings.
  10. The girl’s  reasons for going to America will become evident in the story (no spoilers).
  11. We feel her secret loathing towards an uncommunicative  and cruel father.


Walking the Blue Fields

  1. Beautiful story….
  2. A priest catalogs the evidence of a
  3. bride’s uncertainty on her wedding day:
  4. “…the light, shaky signature in
  5. The bride’s hand was shaking”…why?
  6. This short story was a page-turner.
  7. I wanted to know the meaning of the quote early in the story:
  8. “There’s pleasure to be had from history.
  9. What’s recent is another matter and painful to recall.”


McGahern: Parachutes

  1. A short story should be a slice of life…to fit on the pinhead of a needle.
  2. McGahern makes some classic mistakes in “Parachutes”:
  3. Weak point: Too many scene breaks: I counted 11 including  3 flashbacks
  4. Weak point: Too many characters: 8
  5. I would have preferred McGahern had concentrated only on
  6. the lovers who are ending a relationship.
  7. Weak point: the title did not connect to the story as strongly as it should.
  8. The thistledown felt like an aside…a digression.
  9. Weak point: Vague ending:  I invested my time to follow the story to is end and
  10. felt cheated…he end doesn’t offer a conclusion to the plot.
  11. This is not a stellar short story…by any means.
  12. #TerribleDisappointment


McGahern:  The Ballad

  1. Weak points: The story was pointless!
  2. Four males  live in Mrs. McKinney’s boarding house.
  3. One of them, O’Reilly, has put one local girl “in the family way”
  4. He tries to avoid marrying her….but ends op doing so.
  5. They live happy ever after.
  6. Where is the plot, tension?
  7. Where is the conflict between characters?
  8. Yet again McGahern uses 7 different scenes!
  9. To complete my disappointment the title “The Ballad” makes no
  10. connection with the story. I did not read about a song or a ditty.
  11. I rest my case.
  12. #TerribleDisappointment



Trevor:    Three People    (Vera, Sidney and Mr. Schele)

  1. Strong point:  …you can feel the tension on the pages!
  2. ‘They do not talk about a time that
  3. …was a distressing time for Vera, and Mr. Schele too.” (?)
  4. Strong point – structure of the story
  5. …put together like pieces of a puzzle for the reader to discover.
  6. Strong point: Trevor peppers his story with clues that increase the tension.
  7. The reader is getting a ‘glimpse’ of a break-in,
  8. but the evidence doesn’t seem to be believable!
  9. Why is Vera’s photo in the newspaper!
  10. Strong point: has ALL THE ELEMENTS of a memorable short story!!
  11. It felt like reading a novel…so engrossing.
  12. #ExcellentShortStory!


Trevor:  Good News

  1. Strong Point: Characterization: Mr Trevor does not rely on physical appearance but rather
  2. thoughts, feelings, and interaction to describe the characters.
  3. Dialogue: Light conversational dialogue between Bea (9 years old)
  4. and her mother Iris and father Dickie.
  5. Her mother is “a pushy stage mother”
  6. reliving her bygone days as an actress while her daughter films a movie.
  7. Theme:  Harassment: The story zooms in on
  8. …Bea’s inner thoughts and her fears
  9. while taking part in filming a movie.
  10. She feels it is an unsafe environment (no spoiler)
  11. Strong point: Title reflects core message:  
  12. Good News – always brightened things up between
  13. her parents before they were divorced.
  14. Bea’s acting job was good news.
  15. But Bea is torn between admitting her fears (unsafe on the acting set)
  16. …and or say nothing.
  17. She sees her parents interact in a loving way again
  18. ….and she does not want to ruin that.
  19. She chooses to suffer in silence.
  20. #ExcellentShortStory!
Read more from Ireland, short story
4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mar 17 2021

    I am amazed at the speed with which you must read. To do so and deliver quality reviews is much to be commended.


    • Mar 17 2021

      I love to read….love the dissect as many short stories to learn the nuts and bolts of the genre.
      It is an art form often deemed less than a novel. I think it is harder to write like William Trevor….than a 500 pg chunkster filled with ‘padding’. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!


  2. Mar 18 2021

    I’m already a huge Trevor fan, but will definitely watch out for Claire Keegen now.


    • Mar 18 2021

      Rising star….is an understatement!
      Trevor just taps into human emotions like no other….the the plots are
      so intricate…with hidden clues…it works well in the short story!
      Need a Australian “rising star” who writes short stories…..any suggestions?

      Liked by 1 person


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