‘Island’ by Philip Ó Ceallaigh

A man, the narrator of this brutal and astonishing story, has moved to an island to live a remote life, tending to the grounds, and specifically the grapes on a crumbling hillside house. As he works in solitude, his peaceful wine-sipping is interrupted by a pair of mating monkey (type things). The ‘monkeys’ have a lot of sex and the man watches them. From here, it becomes more surreal. What opens as a typical, fairly sparse form of contemplative masculinity diffuses into a gentle hallucinatory departure from normal life into an exotic death. The whole of Trouble (the collection) is rife with this effortless switch from what a lot of people call ‘muscular writing’ into something shatteringly tender. I’m always so glad when these turns come along, and I always find myself staring at the page for a long time after this story.  

First published in Trouble, Stinging Fly, 2021

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