‘The Dead’ by James Joyce

Let this personal anthology be taken as proof that there are far too many heart-horrifyingly good short story writers out there. In a dozen stories, you can, of course, only scrape the surface; dip a foot, as it were, amid a dozen specimens of the species. Lord knows, and now you know, too, that some extraordinary things have slipped by me. I would name all the wonders if I could: William Maxwell, Mavis Gallant, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, Anne Enright, Helen Simpson’s ‘Up at a Villa’ and… all that rest. For now, though, the end must be the incontrovertible end to Dubliners by James Joyce. Not only because of the story, but because, a couple of years ago, I heard the actor Aidan Gillen read the story in the Sam Wanamaker Theatre, attached to Shakespeare’s Globe, and it was then that the wonder of thing struck me anew. Some stories are glimpses. ‘The Dead’ is not, of course. Mr Gillen made it mesmerising. The story and the performance combined perfectly. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

From Dubliners. Available to read here

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