30 Under 30: A Selection of Short Stories by Thirty Young Irish Writers edited by Elizabeth Reapy with a foreword by John Walsh
The Irish Quarter
"When Icarus first returned to earth, it was as an amoeba--he was not to be trusted to be governed by his own thoughts".
There are thirty stories in 30 Under 30: A Selection of Short Stories by Thirty Young Irish Writers. (I totally endorse purchase of this very fairly priced collection and will provide a publisher's link at the end of this post.) There is also a very interesting introduction by the editor Elizabeth Reapy (I have posted on her very well done short story, "Statues") and a foreword by John Walsh.. Agreeing with John Walsh, I think this book could well be a collector's item one day.
Posting on collections of short stories that include the works of many different authors presents a big challenge, to me at least. I do not personally care for reviews or posts on short story collections that simply have one or two lines on a few of the stories and then gush over the collection as a whole with standard book review quotes. These could in fact easily be written without reading much of the collection and to me it is like going on about a forest without realizing it is made up of trees. Because of the high quality of the stories and the collection's ability to acquaint me with contemporary Irish short stories, I now plan to post individually on all of the stories in the collection.
Upon completion of this project, I will list my top five stories.
"Icarus" by Fiona O'Hara is another story that is helping me get into flash fiction. "Flash Fiction" generally means a short story that can be printed on two pages or one under 750 words. The term was probably first used by James Thomas in his introduction to the an anthology he edited, Flash Fiction: Seventy Two Very Short Stories, in 1998. I like these lines from 365 Tommorows a lot
Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated.
"Icarus" by Fiona O'Hea perfectly fits this description. It very first sentence, quoted above, tears not just into us but into one of the root myths of western culture. It is the history of the evolution of life on earth re-explained to us as an improvement on the ancient Greeks. I have read articles on music in which the writers try to explain the "meaning" of great works in highly obtuse terms, my first thought on this is just listen to the music you idiot and yes I know you have to publish articles to get tenure. My final word on "Icarus" by Fiona O'Hea is just read it.
I hope to read a lot more of her stories.
Author Data (from 30 Under 30)
Fiona O'Hara was born in Belfast in 1985. She has just completed the Creative Writing MA at Queen's University and was recently published in The Stinging Fly.
You can find more information on 30 Under Thirty: A Selection of Short Stories by Thirty Young Irish Writers at the web page of Doire Press.