That Old Country Music – Book Review

Book Review - That Old Country Music by Kevin Barry - Book Review: Stories of affection, desire, and country life by the talented Irish essayist

Author: Kevin Barry

Genre: Short Stories

Publisher: Doubleday

Pages: 208

Price: $20.95

That Old Country Music by Kevin Barry - Book Review

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About The Author

The creator of the books Beatlebone, Night Boat to Tangier, and the City of Bohane and the story assortments Dark Lies the Island, and There Are Little Kingdoms, Kevin Barry. His honors include the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Goldsmiths Prize, The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Prize, and the Lannan Foundation Literary Award.

His accounts and articles show up in the New Yorker, Granta, and somewhere else. He likewise functions as a writer and screenwriter, and he lives in County Sligo, Ireland.

Book Review

Stories of affection, desire, and country life by the talented Irish essayist. It’s spring or summer in western Ireland in the greater part of these 11 stories. The whitethorn—or hawthorn, which helps the heart, says cultivators—might be ‘decked over the high fields as though for the organizing of a witch’s wedding.’ And love shows up all through, sentimental, familial, harmful, mysterious, and sullen.

A man drives away his sweetheart for the horrendously recognizable explanation that he can’t envision ‘what sort of an insane person could succumb to any semblance of me.’

A young lady who focuses on a man to take her virginity before she gets back to live-in school feels forceful when she runs away. A man acquires a cabin that appears to make him overwhelming to ladies; however, while he’s Don Juan under that rooftop, ‘somewhere else, I was, as could be, a pack of spanners.’

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A gatherer of old western Irish tunes is surprised by one in which a wedded lady entices a herder so that she can entertain her significant other with portrayals of her casualty’s besotted state. A pregnant 17-year-old holds up in a van while her life partner is probably off burglarizing a service station to back their elopement, however here, ‘the whitethorn bloom… made an unfavorable air as it moved in the breeze.’

Barry has the secret sauce for short stories. He rejuvenates characters rapidly and afterward favors them with his uncanny ear for discourse and exposition rhythms, his empathy, and his wry mind. The most captivating one opens with a dead whitethorn and has Theodore Roethke in an Irish mental clinic (as he was in 1960), bantering with a sincere specialist while the artist’s severe inside speech adds a subtext on frenzy and innovativeness. Excellent composition and an altogether engaging assortment.

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Critic’s Views


There are no terrible Kevin Barry books. There are no calm Kevin Barry books.

Each obscurely profound drama he creates—be it a novel or a short story assortment—is a wild, charged monster of language that hurls you on its back as it hits the dance floor with hyper joy around the desolate, frequented west; of Ireland scene…

The tales in That Old Country Music have all Barry’s entrancing tenderness and supreme phonetic verve at his absolute best.


An unprecedented essayist . . . In his short stories, Barry appears to be most

completely and splendidly himself. . . . So rich thus perfectly crafted―its best stories feel immediately accepted, as though we’ve just been perusing them for quite a long time . . . The initial story is letter-wonderful from its first line . . . Clever, moving, worked with the predominant economy, this is the genuine article . . . Barry stays the incredible sentimental of contemporary Irish fiction.

Like the entirety of the most intriguing craftsmen, he improves with each danger he takes. The boldness might be his. Yet, the prizes are, for the most part, our own.


Barry splendidly brings out both the great and terrible sides of adoration and does as such with incredibly perfect composition… There’s not a part of composing that Barry doesn’t dominate at. His discourse sounds valid, and he’s incredibly skilled at scene-setting—he summons both the scene of western Ireland and the scene of the human heart wonderfully.

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