Colin Barrett

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Life
1982- ; b. Co. Mayo; educ. St Muredach’s College, Ballina; grad. at UCD (English); worked full-time in mobile company office for five years; took Creative Writing MA Course at University College, Dublin; contrib. new fiction to The Stinging Fly and received the Penguin Ireland Prize, 2009; The Stinging Fly [lit. mag.] issues Young Skins (Sept. 2013), set in fictional Mayo town of Glanbeigh, and dealing with young people in a constrictive rural environment; winner of Frank O’Connor Short Story Award, 2014; moved to Mullingar with his girlfriend; writes full-time.

Online ...
Publisher: See published notices and reviews for Young Skins (2013) at The Stinging Fly - online.
Twitter: Colin Barrett tweets @ https://twitter.com/ColinBarrett82 - where he ironically offered to read ‘five nights in croker, consecutive or no, should my government need me’ during Garth Brooks gig crisis [July 2014.]

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Works
Young Skins (Dublin: Stinging Fly Press 2013), 176pp.; Do. (London: Jonathan Cape 2014; Grove Atlantic 2015).

contrib. fiction to The Stinging Fly; anthologised in Sharp Sticks, Driven Nails (Stinging Fly Press 2010) and Town and Country, ed. Kevin Barry  (London: Faber and Faber, 2013) ["the Clancy Kid", pp.158-76; opening story in extract from Young Skins].

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Criticism
Ciara Moynihan, interview with Colin Barrett, in Mayo News (19 Nov. 2013) [see extract]; Lily Ní Dhomhnaill, ‘Interview: Colin Barrett’, in TWO [TN2] Magazine: Alternative Culture for Students (10 Dec. 2013) [see extract]; Alison Flood, ‘Frank O’Connor short story award goes to “new, young, genius” Colin Barrett’, in The Guardian (11 July 2014) [see extract].

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Commentary
Ciara Moynihan, interview with Colin Barrett, in Mayo News (19 Nov. 2013): speaks of influence of Kevin Barry: "“Kevin Barry is a big influence,” Barrett says, without hesitation. “I’m a great fan of his. Comparisons have been made between his work and mine once or twice. [“There are Little Kingdoms’] first came out back in 2006 or 2007, and I found it maybe a couple of years later, and loved it. His stories are great. / “I’d been reading other authors – I’d gone through being a big fan of American literature, and I’d read John McGahern, James Joyce, Dermot Healy, Pat McCabe and so on. But Kevin Barry, it was something different. Something contemporary. He was using the here and now as material. And I had a moment - I realised “Oh, you CAN write about it, you can write about contemporary country Ireland if you want, and you can do it in an irreverent way and in a way that is alive to you’.”

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Alison Flood, ‘Frank O’Connor short story award goes to “new, young, genius” Colin Barrett’, in The Guardian (11 July 2014) - remarks that Young Skins has already drawn stunning reviews; quotes Barrett: [Young Skins is] ‘[s]et among the lives of the young people of a fictional small Irish town – the young do not number many here, but it is fair to say we have the run of the place.’

Further [quoting Barrett] - ‘I’m from a small town in the west of Ireland. I left for Dublin as people do, and I suppose I wanted to take a look at that world, so isolated, to recreate it with its own games and hierarchy and rules of the jungle. [...] It’s its own discrete world, with its own rules, and I wanted to play with that, with the madcap energy and wildness that you get in these places, where people live in an enclosed environment.’

Barrett says the collection was called Young Skins ‘because most of the protagonists are youngish, from their teens to their 20s. A couple are slightly older people - but they are sufficiently psychologically arrested to come under the description of young people.’

‘The collection opens in the voice of the hungover Jimmy, who tells the reader: “My town is nowhere you have been, but you know its ilk. A roundabout off a national road, an industrial estate, a five-screen Cineplex, a century of pubs packed inside the square mile of the town’s limits. The Atlantic is near; the gnarled jawbone of the coastline with its gull-infested promontories is near.”’

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Lily Ní Dhomhnaill, TWO [TN2] Magazine: Alternative Culture for Students (10 Dec. 2013): ‘Colin Barrett’s stark debut Young Skins examines the lot of the young male in small-town Ireland with icy clarity. In the fictional town of Glenbeigh (“My town is nowhere you have been, but you know its ilk”) the striking Mayo coast becomes setting for seven tales of violence, loneliness and self-destruction. A place of stinted relationships and unfulfilled ambitions, Bord Fáilte brochure for the West of Ireland, it is not… But don’t let all that put you off. Barrett’s obvious joy in language keeps the book from melting into a complete puddle of gloom. The ease with which he strings words together makes for a rich register, with the loose cadence of a soft Irish lilt… Dialogue is sharp and colourful, descriptions shrewd and evocative, and the desperate, desolate characters will haunt you stubbornly when you’ve finished.’ (Available online; accessed 12.07.2012.)

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