Inside Tim Johnston's Irish Girl, readers will find spellbinding stories of loss, absence, and the devastating effects of chance--of what happens when the unthinkable bad luck of other people, of other towns, becomes our bad luck, our town. Taut, lucid, and engrossing, provocative and dark--and often darkly funny--these stories have much to offer the lover of literary fiction as well as the reader who just loves a great story. "This is white-knuckle prose; it means what it says and it says what it means. Not that I count words, but when an image can be etched in fewer than ten, I sit up and take notice. When an image is limned in fewer than five words, I pretty near shiver. The stories in Irish Girl provide more shiver per page than most stories provide in twenty."--Janet Peery, judge and author of The River Beyond the World
You have to read closely so as not to miss significant clues in these tightly coiled stories by Katherine Anne Porter Prize winner Johnston (Never So Green), who ventures deeply into the consciousness of Midwesterners to unearth old tensions and buried animosities. In "Water," he balances a marvelously multilayered plot involving a widowed mother of now grown twin boys ("one healthy, one not") who recognizes how her protectiveness of her sons even if one commits a horrible crime supersedes the ties she holds to her past. "Dirt Men" finds Buddy Jr., the son of a local excavating entrepreneur, returned home in disgrace from the Colorado college where he was teaching and trapped within the intersection of his past and his hubris when the dismembered body of a woman is found in an auto salvage lot. In "Things Go Missing," Johnston enters the mind of a young woman burglar whose seemingly senseless thefts (such as her shrink's autographed Michael Jordan poster) allows her to connect finally with someone, despite the pain she inflicts. These beautifully rendered tales deliver an emotional wallop.