That Old Country Music: Stories (Hardcover)
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While this book came out in January, it’s always a good time for a quality short story collection! Imagistic without being overwritten, Barry's prose invokes the damp melancholy of rural Ireland, the atmosphere of gloaming, the country’s collision of old and new. Each character carries a unique desperation, desiring love (and sex) and connection throughout these finely wrought stories.— Ben
With three novels and two short story collections published, Kevin Barry has steadily established his stature as one of the finest writers not just in Ireland but in the English language. All of his prodigious gifts of language, character, and setting in these eleven exquisite stories transport the reader to an Ireland both timeless and recognizably modern. Shot through with dark humor and the uncanny power of the primal and unchanging Irish landscape, the stories in That Old Country Music represent some of the finest fiction being written today.
"Barry brilliantly evokes both the good and bad sides of love, and does so with stunningly gorgeous writing…There's not an aspect of writing that Barry doesn't excel at. His dialogue rings true, and he's amazingly gifted at scene-setting—he evokes both the landscape of western Ireland and the landscape of the human heart beautifully."
"I had to quit reading this book the first day I had it in my hands, just so I could have it to read the next day. It's that good."
“Coarse and lyrical, arresting and often hilarious. There are verbal titillations and delights on nearly every page, but also an undertow of sorrow…Barry’s old country music cuts deep into the reader’s heart.”
"Splendid...Easygoing in their elegance and capacious in their emotional range, these stories draw naturally from Ireland’s literary tradition without becoming distorted by nostalgia or homage."
—Wall Street Journal
"Kevin Barry’s new collection of melodic and melancholy short stories, set against the harsh, majestic landscape of the Irish countryside, conjures a dark and richly textured world haunted by history. Read slowly and savor."
"There are no bad Kevin Barry books. There are no sedate Kevin Barry books. Every darkly-soulful tragicomedy he produces—be it a novel or a short story collection—is a wild, electrified beast of language that throws you up on its back as it dances with manic glee around the lonesome, haunted west of Ireland landscape…The stories in That Old Country Music have all the hypnotic pathos and inimitable linguistic verve of Barry at his very best."
"Barry’s style [is] a nervy mix of high poetry and low comedy that he applies with unceasing vigor."
—The New York Times Book Review
"Barry’s new collection creates its own literary language, blending a deep humanity with mordant humor."
—O, The Oprah Magazine
"Barry skillfully blends humor and pathos...An inspired, evocative book."
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Barry has the right stuff for short stories. He brings characters to life quickly and then blesses them with his uncanny ear for dialogue and prose rhythms, his compassion and wry wit…Exceptional writing and a thoroughly entertaining collection.”
—Kirkus (starred review)
"The multi-award-winning Barry (Night Boat to Tangier) dazzles with his word wizardry and the effortless grace of his perfect sentences.”
"Stellar...The hallmarks of Mr. Barry’s writing are in evidence here, from the earthy dialogue to his many poetic descriptions."
"The master short story teller turns messy emotions into riveting tales of wounded Irish folk...One of the best collections you'll read this year."
―Sunday Times (UK)
"Wild, witty stories...The west of Ireland teems with canny characters and vivid language...Darkly glimmering...Their language is exhilarating, its verve evoking the very best of Barry's compatriots while further carving out a territory that's all his own."
"Barry often writes with sonorous wisdom...but as readers of his grimly hilarious novels will know, his language is just as precise when it is in the service of comedy...Exhilaratingly funny and poignant fables."
―Sunday Telegraph (UK)
"These playful, serious and beautifully crafted stories allow Barry to experiment as we need great writers to do."
"An extraordinary writer . . . In his short stories Barry seems most fully and brilliantly himself. . . . So rich and so flawlessly crafted―its best stories feel instantly canonical, as if we've already been reading them for years . . . The opening story is letter-perfect from its first line . . . Funny, moving, built with superior economy, this is the real thing . . . Barry remains the great romantic of contemporary Irish fiction. Like all of the most interesting artists, he gets better with every risk he takes. The courage may be his. But the rewards are all ours."