‘The Clancy Kid’ by Colin Barrett

I haven’t read all that many stories in the past few years, as part of an effort to stop writing them (long-story, for another time). As a result, I had Colin Barrett’s Young Skins sitting on my shelves for ages before getting round to it a few weeks ago. I could choose one of several stories but The Clancy Kid is the first in the book, the one I read first, and so the impression of it’s low key brilliance has stuck with me the most. There is very little to it. Two friends drink in a pub. They leave, turn over a car, and meet some kids on a bridge. There is an unresolved affair, a preoccupation with a child that has gone missing in the next town, an almost randomly collected bunch of things. And yet it is so beautifully done, so unforced, so life-like, that it takes your breath away.

First published in Young Skins (Cape, 2014)