THE THINGS WE LOSE, THE THINGS WE LEAVE BEHIND: AND OTHER SHORT STORIES BY BILLY O'CALLAGHAN

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THE THINGS WE LOSE, THE THINGS WE

LEAVE BEHIND: AND OTHER SHORT

STORIES BY BILLY O'CALLAGHAN

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THE THINGS WE LOSE, THE THINGS WE LEAVE BEHIND:

AND OTHER SHORT STORIES BY BILLY O'CALLAGHAN

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About the Author

Billy O'Callaghan was born in Cork in 1974, and is the author of three short story collections: 'In Exile' and 'In Too Deep' (2008 and 2009 respectively, both published by Mercier Press), and 'The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind' (2013, published by New Island Press), the title story of which was honoured with the Irish Book Award for Short Story of the Year.

Over the past decade, more than seventy of his stories have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals and magazines around the world, including: Absinthe: New European Writing, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, the Bellevue Literary Review, Bliza (Poland), Confrontation, Crannóg, the Fiddlehead (Canada), Hayden's Ferry Review, the Kenyon Review, the Kyoto Journal (Japan), the Linnet's Wings, the London Magazine, the Los Angeles Review, Narrative, Pilvax (Hungary), the Southeast Review, Southword, Verbal Magazine (Northern Ireland), Versal (Holland), and Yuan Yang: a Journal of Hong Kong and International Writing. He has also written for the Irish Examiner, the Evening Echo and the Irish Times.

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THE THINGS WE LOSE, THE THINGS WE LEAVE BEHIND:

AND OTHER SHORT STORIES BY BILLY O'CALLAGHAN

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THE THINGS WE LOSE, THE THINGS WE LEAVE BEHIND:

AND OTHER SHORT STORIES BY BILLY O'CALLAGHAN

PDF

This new collection by Billy O'Callaghan explores everyday existence in the aftermath of cataclysms both subtle and overt. The characters who populate these stories are people afflicted by life and circumstance, hauled from some idyll and confronted with such real world problems as divorce, miscarriage, cancer, desertion, bereavement, and the disintegration of love. The book suggests that the human heart boasts extraordinary resilience. We bear the guilt, sorrow and regret for the things we have lost or given up, we seek the light, and we endure. These thirteen stories attempt to illuminate the darkness.

Sales Rank: #3033320 in Books

Dimensions: 7.70" h x .80" w x 5.00" l, .65 pounds

Billy O'Callaghan was born in Cork in 1974, and is the author of three short story collections: 'In Exile' and 'In Too Deep' (2008 and 2009 respectively, both published by Mercier Press), and 'The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind' (2013, published by New Island Press), the title story of which was honoured with the Irish Book Award for Short Story of the Year.

Over the past decade, more than seventy of his stories have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals and magazines around the world, including: Absinthe: New European Writing, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, the Bellevue Literary Review, Bliza (Poland), Confrontation, Crannóg, the Fiddlehead (Canada), Hayden's Ferry Review, the Kenyon Review, the Kyoto Journal (Japan), the Linnet's Wings, the London Magazine, the Los Angeles Review, Narrative, Pilvax (Hungary), the Southeast Review, Southword, Verbal Magazine (Northern Ireland), Versal (Holland), and Yuan Yang: a Journal of Hong Kong and International Writing. He has also written for the Irish Examiner, the Evening Echo and the Irish Times.

A recipient of the 2013 Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Award for Short Story of the Year, and a 2010 Arts Council of Ireland Bursary Award for Literature, his stories have won and been shortlisted for numerous other honours, including the George A. Birmingham Award, the Lunch Hour Stories Prize, the Molly Keane Creative Writing Award, the Sean O'Faolain Award, the RTE Radio 1 Francis MacManus Award, the Faulkner/Wisdom Award, the Glimmer Train Prize and the Writing Spirit Award. He was also short-listed four times for the RTE Radio 1 P.J. O'Connor Award for Drama.

Most helpful customer reviews

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The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind By Brian Ó Faoláin

'The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind' is a remarkable collection of short stories by one of Ireland's best authors. O'Callaghan has written thirteen compelling stories that combine poetic intensity and an often stark realism to explore the emotional, psychological and physical truths of his characters' lives. In the book's extraordinary title story, which won the Writing.ie Short Story of the Year at the prestigious Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards in 2013, the narrator realises that, although he has not been home in six years, the only thing that has changed there is "the fresh coat of whitewash". O'Callaghan slowly reveals the hard truths that have caused the man to leave, bringing the story to a denouement that is all the more devastating for its calmness.

The first story, 'Zhuangzi Dreamed he was a Butterfly', is narrated by a father trying to come to terms with the loss of his daughter. In this beautiful, sad account of a tragedy that is all too common in our modern, hurried world, the fragility of life pushes against its seeming futility, and we "live our lives around the edges of a gaping hole, but we have to live."

Unlike many of today's writers, O'Callaghan is unafraid to write honestly about women. As the narrator of 'Are the Stars Out Tonight?' reveals of his ex, his child's mother, "She is young again until I look too close. Then her eyes give away the lie." His disillusionment, or his abandoning of illusions about life, are summed up when he says that everything changes, and rarely for the better. "Everything burns out in time." But in this story, a child - the narrator's daughter Nell - arrives home, and her "arrival is announced in song." She is the embodiment of life and hope and youth, making this story a counterpoint to the previous one.

The difficulty of relationships coming to an end is one of O'Callaghan's most urgent themes, in stories seeming sometimes almost too real to be labelled "fictions". In 'We're Not Made of Stone', a story never less than authentic, the comfortably numb life she shares with James is broken apart by personal tragedy, and Margaret's fantasies, beginning as a way to reject her reality, bring her to a place outside of the sad, humdrum life she shares with her husband. In 'Goodbye, My Coney Island Baby', on the other hand, there is no pretence between the lovers, in a deeply felt, honestly written account of a man and a woman "holding onto one another, lending and finding support, until the end is in sight."

I have mentioned just some of the thirteen stories in this exceptional collection, each one of which takes place in its own vividly imagined reality, whether in Ireland, America, Spain or Taiwan. Beautiful, disconcerting, profound, and unforgettable, 'The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind' is a book that I recommend to all serious readers of literature.

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful.

A wonderful collection by the 2013 Winner of the Irish Short Story of the Year Award By Mel u-The Reading Life

The more collections of short stories I post about, the more difficult I find the process. In most cases the stories in the collection were not originally written with the idea of placing it in a collection. Reviewers, I do not consider myself a reviewer, I just read things and then post on them, tend to write a sentence or two on a few of the stories, then indulge in lyrical metaphorical descriptions of the collection that on analysis often make little sense. I prefer, and I think it shows more respect for the author and potential collection reader, to post in some detail on a number of stories in the collection.

From that point, I feel open to talking about common themes in the stories.

For those who want the bottom line first, I completely endorse this collection to all lovers of exquisite prose and brilliantly plotted psychologically acute short stories. I see O'Callaghan rapidly developing as an artist and I hope to read many more stories by him.

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"Zhuangzi Dreamed He Was A Butterfly"

"I wish for the closeness we'd once enjoyed, but life has a way of widening voids, or maybe it was enough to know that we'll love one another until we die".

One of the things O'Callaghan is very good is letting us see how time and events change relationships between men and women, how a living relationship is fluid, in some ways it will get worse, in others better. This is a story with a terrible tragedy at the core. It is about how the death of a totally loved six year old daughter, who had become the heart of their, impacts a marriage upon her death. It is told by the husband. The death created a breaking point, a before and after in their relationship. The man must bear his own pain at that of his wife. He must listen to others in unshattered worlds, world with before and afters. He sees how even his memory of Aiko changes, everything is in flux. He things about his marriage, maybe he mourns the unclouded love they once have. He knows he shares a bond with his wife he can share with no other. This is a story that every parent hopes will always just be a fiction for them. We are made to see how this terrible pain has deepened the wisdom of the husband, we are left in stasis on the wife, only hoping she can sleep through the night again one day.

"Farmed Out"

"He has never been anywhere, and can barely imagine a world beyond the little he knows, but these books are like fire to his mind".

Ireland, like a lot of places, is full of young people nobody wants. In a way, and I accept I am looking for this as I read, is part of the notion that the grand theme of modern Irish literature is that of the weak or missing father, some would add to this the notion of monstrous fathers. I will leave it open for now if monsters are not masking terrible weakness brought on by their own sense of powerlessness. The story centers on a teenage boy released from a Christian Brothers School, rightly or wrongly places with bad reputations for abuse, into the care of a farmer. There is a formal arrangement where the boy has to work for the farmer in exchange for room and board. The farmer tells him do your work and their will be no trouble. The veiled threat is there to send him back. The work is very hard, the days are very long but the boy sees it as better than the school. He lost his mother, we have no idea where his father might be, at an early age. He has a sister who sends him novels about the old days in the American west. These stories captivate him. Much of the power and beauty of this story is it the descriptions of life on the farm. The ending is as harsh as the Irish countryside can be and as cruel. This is a story of a seemingly pointless life, a boy treated with cruelty by people who know no better for themselves.

"Are the Stars Out Tonight"

"At nineteen your horizons have not yet burned"

"Are the Stars Out Tonight" is about the last days of a marriage of two decades or so. The wife very calmly tells the husband the time has come for him to move out, it is what they both want. There is no surface anger or angst, the wife has been having an affair with a mutual friend. Nobody hates anybody, all very civilized, maybe repressed. They have a daughter in college. O'Callaghan is very good at taking his characters through changes in relationships. There is still a passion between between them. The daughter adds much to the story. One of, as I see it, the theme of the authors is how people come to cope with the loss of the the first hopes of life, of relationships.

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Many people decades into their marriage may find this story more than a little painful. The description of James retreat into reading was a bit close for me! They both have OK regular jobs, they get along fine, they have sex once and a while. They long wanted a baby but they accepted it was not to happen. Then one day she tells her husband she, at forty five or so, is at last pregnant. The story is how the adjust to this potentially massive disruption in their lives. Each is watching the other very closely to discover how their partner really feels. I don't want to tell more of the plot. One of the frequent leitmotifs in Irish literature seen in our author's work, is the impact of the long term repression of emotions on relationships. Neither party understand how to fully express or even understand their feelings for the other. This is a very acutely observed story. I felt a deep empathy for the husband, he wants an heir but he loves his routine. N

"Goodbye My Coney Island Baby"

So far four of the first six stories have been about marriages with flaws, marriages that endure long after the first reasons for it are over. "Goodbye My Coney Island Baby, set in New York City is about Peter and Susan. They have both been married for a long time but not to each other. They work in the same office building and have been having an affair for seventeen years, meeting for sex in out of the way motels. Neither really wants to leave their spouse. The descriptions of the sexual aspect of their relationship was very well done, Susan still acted like a girl friend, even after seventeen years. Now I am for sure not saying a wife is not preferable to a long time girl friend but a lot of this stories readers will quietly feel the difference. Of course they feel guilty. Peter has just told her that his wife has been diagnosed with very aggressive cancer. You can feel Susan's fear in this but we are not quite sure what it is she is fearing. In a way, there relationship has not really developed or matured much past the opening stages.

"Matador"

OK, here is a question for all readers of this story- did you think of Hemingway as you read this story of a matador forced from the bull ring by an injury, and by a bull a clear rank below his level? It was good to see a story in the collection set outside of Ireland. Stories about bull fighting in Spain are stories about proving your manhood. This is a very intriguing strory about what suffering a career ending injury does to the psyche of a bull fighter. I liked it very much.

"Keep Well to Seaward"

"And in those few seconds I saw her as the old woman she'll be one day.

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There are six other stories in the collection, each a great pleasure to read.

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful. I would like to invent a new way to describe what I ... By Mary Parkhurst

What to say about a book that stunned me, time and again. I might call Billy O'Callaghan a "writer's writer," if that term did not immediately consign a writer to obscurity. (In the USA, Richard Yates is often referred to as a "writer's writer," and until the movie REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, few people, apart from those who taught in MFA programs, knew his name.

I would like to invent a new way to describe what I think Billy O'Callaghan will leave as his literary legacy. I would call him a "human's human" (with a pen) or an "explorer's explorer" of our dreams. I would call him a poet of the spirit. Or, maybe, to use a more prosaic analogy, he is a housekeeper who assiduously dusts the cluttered rooms we keep closed, even from our conscious minds.

In the moving first story of the collection, "Zhuangzi Dreamed He Was A Butterfly," a husband and wife grieve a daughter's death, and the husband explores the idea of time. "When you think about it, there is just so much that can go wrong. If any one of those tiny workings should crack or spit apart, then that's it; as fast as a finger-snap the whole thing comes grinding to a halt. One small break and all time stops." Anyone who has lost a child knows that the speeding up or slowing down of time, the infinite replaying of the disaster-that-might-have-been-averted, forms only one side of the prism through which a grieving parent views the past.

In "Lila" the narrator, riding the L, spots a familiar face. "In the two decades since moving to Chicago I have thought of her often, the way we all do with close friends who for a time mean more than the world itself to us but then, for whatever reason, fall out of our lives." True, right? We've all thought this at one time or another.

As the story progresses, we learn why their paths diverged; the narrator must come to terms with what happened before they lost touch. When the story returns to the present, the reader is fully anchored in the physical world. "Seconds build, full of the train's dull inner-ear heartbeat, a smooth enough sensation, but only by comparison, and yet it felt as though time were moving in reverse, taking us out of ourselves back to some better state."

I wish I had written that sentence. Here's another.

"He was wearing yesterday's wool shirt, and the fibres held his musk in a way that was not pleasant. She felt an urge to pull back, but couldn't, because his big hands held gentle but secure against her hips. Trapped, all she could do, short of insulting or embarrassing him by making a fuss, was pray that God would grant her the small mercy of not having this stench forever attach itself in her mind to what was supposed to be one of the most special and precious of moments of her entire life."

As writers we strive to use all five senses, but I've rarely seen a writer evoke so much emotion from a sense of smell.

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what might have been.

Some people talk about our "illusions," as if there were some all-seeing Eye that could pass judgment on what is, or is not, the right way of understanding life's confusions. Instead of illusions, Billy O'Callaghan talks about "dreams." For the characters in "Goodbye, My Coney Island Baby," "The Matador," and many of these stories, dreams are where people find relief from the weight of their losses, disappointments, self-inflicted wounds, and limitations.

This is writing at its finest.

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THE THINGS WE LOSE, THE THINGS WE LEAVE BEHIND:

AND OTHER SHORT STORIES BY BILLY O'CALLAGHAN

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About the Author

Billy O'Callaghan was born in Cork in 1974, and is the author of three short story collections: 'In Exile' and 'In Too Deep' (2008 and 2009 respectively, both published by Mercier Press), and 'The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind' (2013, published by New Island Press), the title story of which was honoured with the Irish Book Award for Short Story of the Year.

Over the past decade, more than seventy of his stories have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals and magazines around the world, including: Absinthe: New European Writing, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, the Bellevue Literary Review, Bliza (Poland), Confrontation, Crannóg, the Fiddlehead (Canada), Hayden's Ferry Review, the Kenyon Review, the Kyoto Journal (Japan), the Linnet's Wings, the London Magazine, the Los Angeles Review, Narrative, Pilvax (Hungary), the Southeast Review, Southword, Verbal Magazine (Northern Ireland), Versal (Holland), and Yuan Yang: a Journal of Hong Kong and International Writing. He has also written for the Irish Examiner, the Evening Echo and the Irish Times.

A recipient of the 2013 Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Award for Short Story of the Year, and a 2010 Arts Council of Ireland Bursary Award for Literature, his stories have won and been shortlisted for numerous other honours, including the George A. Birmingham Award, the Lunch Hour Stories Prize, the Molly Keane Creative Writing Award, the Sean O'Faolain Award, the RTE Radio 1 Francis MacManus Award, the Faulkner/Wisdom Award, the Glimmer Train Prize and the Writing Spirit Award. He was also short-listed four times for the RTE Radio 1 P.J. O'Connor Award for Drama.

Obtaining guides The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind: And Other Short Stories By Billy O'Callaghan now is not type of hard means. You can not only opting for e-book shop or collection or

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