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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.
I first experienced Colin Barrett's magnificent work one evening in a crowded church in Cork, Ireland. Colin had just won the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. I was in Ireland for the first time. I was sitting in a pew with my wife and a crowd from all over the world, witnessing the way that Colin's work embraced the air in the rafters and us. Reading Young Skins you can't help but immerse yourself in its contradictions. Colin's stories are humble and yet contain the richness and control of precise beautiful craftwork. His characters—criminals, misfits, the lost, and the heartbroken—can be at once so outwardly violent, but also as silent and vulnerable as coffins. He is both embracing the history and the art of the short story, and yet I think having fun with it. I love these characters in the small bed of the broken world he has captured in all its helplessness, rage, and tenderness. This is literature that is both stealth and full of lightning that may lead you along in a hushed dark until that sudden collision of surprise, ecstacy, horror only to live you jolted, alone in that calm again. The UK's Sunday Times has called Young Skins "timeless." Anne Enright called the stories "new." Can a work of art be both timeless and new? This makes sense to me. When I read Colin's work I'm filled with the gratitude of knowing that I will carry this with me forever, as though it has been with me forever. I also, as I did on that evening in Cork, understand the nature of trusting and having faith in a writer, in their mystery. I would follow him anywhere. –Paul Yoon