GOODBYE CROCODILE – Conor Patrick
published by The London Magazine
The London Magazine has a long-standing reputation for selecting and presenting work of a high literary quality, poetry and prose. They have produced this collection of short stories which does them credit as well as it author. I always enjoy Irish writing – what is it about Ireland that produces writers so skilled in capturing the image which strikes at the heart? People suffer elsewhere after all.
Conor Patrick is a new name to me but I shall remember it now. He displays the velvet of his Irish genes and the sharpness of his past American environment. He has written twelve stories which grasp that time of change or realisation and exposes it. Many of his characters are on the verge of adulthood and perhaps that is why they are lightly drawn. They are fawns not stags, often coping with raw or threatening circumstances. The settings show a wide variety of rough and ready America with characters who are struggling to survive physically or psychologically.
These are literary pieces, rich in description. The boy in the cathedral absorbs the effigies and images ‘lifting heavenwards their stained glass faces’. In my favourite story, ‘Be Still the River’, perhaps the most beautifully written, there is an image of the ‘carapace’ of a pram. This poignantly highlights the death of the mother and of a bereaved younger sister’s childhood. The girl does not have the large fish she had worked so hard to land but this remains of a pram. She is used to pulling fish from the water as the one means of sustenance.
Patrick masters that task of suggesting half a world in the one paragraph – sign of the excellent short story writer. I highly recommended this collection to the serious reader.