My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I continue to be surprised and impressed by Barry’s work. Compared to his first collection, the stories in “Dark Lies the Island” do feel as though they have shifted a little in terms of style–at times more formal and direct than in earlier work. And as much as I enjoyed There are Little Kingdoms: Stories, I did appreciate the new developments in Barry’s writing.
For those expecting a romanticized view of Ireland and it’s people, this is not the place to find such images. Barry’s Ireland is dark and uncomfortable, captured in rich detail and unexpected situations. But the serious–and occasionally disturbing–nature of the stories is intercut with moments of humor (often dark) as well as surprising moments of sincere beauty.
Barry is a fantastic stylist, and this continues to be true, but “Dark Lies the Island” also displays a slightly different side of Barry as a storyteller. From an eclectic gathering at a rapidly flooding pub, to a young woman seeking hope for her future, Barry’s stories are rough and tender, uncomfortable and honest, beautiful and sometimes painfully relatable. With rich language and a powerful grasp of craft, Barry’s work does not disappoint.