"Being Various: New Irish Short Stories," edited by Lucy Caldwell
Even the title reminds us how hard it is to get the Irish to agree about anything: our history, our future, the proper way to pour a pint, or what time the 46A bus departs.
There are as many answers as there are Irish people and so the echo of Louis MacNeice in the title of this collection acknowledges that corralling a bunch of Irish short story writers may be as thankless a task as herding cats.
Editor Lucy Caldwell is also an award winning dramatist, which probably helps when marshaling such disparate voices, all clamoring for an individual hearing.
Notably her collection is two-thirds female and one-third Northern, which almost never happens. Kevin Barry, Eimear McBride, Stuart Neville, Sally Rooney are well known to American readers, which will make this collection immediately approachable.
One of the perennial Irish themes of loneliness and the difficulty of connection is exemplified in stories as various as "How I fell in love with the well-documented life of Alexander Whelan" by Yan Ge, "Pillars" by Jan Carson and "Colour and Light" by Sally Rooney.
Each story offers a bracingly modern take on love and dating and the alienation that brings us right up to the minute.
Faber & Faber, $16.00.