“There are three stunning examples of experimental structure that led me to leap to my Facebook and start messaging certain author and agent friends, appreciators of the avant-garde, to tell them, ‘You have got to read this!’ Rob Doyle’s Summer (Trevor, Lena, Martin) is written as a series of short, sharp immediate thoughts or flash memories that when seen from a distance connect like pixels combining to form a portrait of infidelity. And then there is the last story in Young Irelanders, Oisin Fagan’s aptly titled Subject. It has two sections, a subject and a predicate as it were, with the first a Walt Whitman-like list of who the unnamed character is, i.e. ‘capable of making connections, but untrusting, and increasingly untrustworthy, tenuous hold on reality three hours a day (in the morning)’ followed by what he does – ‘now his hatred is turned inwards and is subdued and finite, subject eats dinner, drinks two pots of tea with Custard Creams’ etcetera and so forth. What I particularly enjoyed about that one is that if you were to take one of the snap observations from each section and put them together, what you would end up with is a nearly infinite variety of dazzling opening sentences.
The third highly experimental story is How to Learn Irish in Seventeen Steps by Roisin O’Donnell. If I was held at gunpoint and demanded to reveal my favourite work in Young Irelanders, this would be it, probably because I have a personal response to its tale of an immigrant to Ireland, although I am neither a young woman nor Brazilian (I looked in the mirror just to be sure). As one might surmise from the story’s title, this story is told in the manner of an instruction manual’s direct, declarative sentences (‘Celebrate your twenty-eighth birthday with runny chocolate pizza’) punctuated with variations on a theme of ‘How do you say’ foreigner/stop talking/I cannot give up now ‘in Irish?’ In a commentary based around the truth that Ireland has a national language which hardly anyone admits to knowing, O’Donnell shapes a bittersweet sad comedy that is an absolute masterpiece.”