Though I read Colin Barrett's Young Skins about a month ago, when I encountered a rave review of it in the Guardian, I recently felt compelled to return to this collection of short stories between other reading. On the surface, the book may seem one-dimensional: the seven, unrelated stories are set in small, sleepy towns in northwest Ireland; the characters are, for the most part, unremarkable working class young men; the dialogue is sparse; and the plot lines are minimalistic and uneventful. Yet, through careful and focused character development, and with vivid, realistic details, Barrett reveals the complexity of his protagonists, who are constantly reaching for something more meaningful beyond their ordinary and banal lives.
Young Skins represents a wonderful debut from a promising young Irish author, with lyricism, grace, and maturity that far surpass Barrett's years and stage in his career. It's impossible to choose a favorite story, so I won't (but I will say that I've read "The Clancy Kid," "Stand Your Skin," and "Calm with Horses" more than a few times).
As a follow-up to our post some weeks ago about A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra, make sure you catch the author’s interview with guest-host Sarah Jessica Parker on WNYC's The Leonard Lopate Show.
If scientists and economists are the only people to lay out the narrative of climate change and its potential impacts on the environment and civilization, we’re in a great deal of trouble. These folks tell of what will be if things stay on the present course. One vital role of artists--that is, those people whose work depends on their imaginations, not data analysis alone--is to show how things could be. We require stories to carry us into a better future, and as this article shows, colleges are beginning to embrace this concept and offer more environmental studies courses focusing on material like “climate fiction” or “cli-fi.”