‘We Too Have Wind-blown Plazas’ by Adrian Duncan

I knew I had to buy Midfield Dynamo when I saw the contents page was laid out in the formation of a football team, with each story occupying its own position on the field. ‘We Too Have Wind-Blown Plazas’ is the No 9, one of two strikers, the target man. Foster is an engineer working in Abu Dhabi, who has left Ireland as much to escape the scorn of his father as the country to which he promised himself he would never return. He wants to “perish in the desert”, isolating himself in his work, but he comes under the influence of his employer, another father figure, who introduces him to class A drugs and seems determined to lead him into complete dissolution. His sense of reality becomes increasingly disordered and when he witnesses the grotesque death of a migrant worker it’s never clear if it’s an actual event, a drug-induced hallucination, or purely a metaphor. This is a short and shocking story of alienation and loss of self, flatly and precisely told. It starts with Foster’s rage at his father and ends in his deportation back to Ireland and its “people and their rage, or something that sounds like rage, but rage that has been continuously doused and beaten and broken, until it is barely rage at all.” There’s not much in the way of hope here, even less than in Ó Ceallaigh’s ‘Dead Dog’, but it’s a fascinating and compelling piece of writing.

Collected in Midfield Dynamo, The Lilliput Press, 2021

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