Pure Gold: Searing, mature tales of immaturity

John Patrick McHugh’s evocative short stories fizz with shrewd characterisation

John Patrick McHugh: His stories are set on “the Island”, a microcosmic surrogate for rural Ireland.

John Patrick McHugh: His stories are set on “the Island”, a microcosmic surrogate for rural Ireland.

The stories that make up Pure Gold, John Patrick McHugh’s debut collection, are searing. They seem to radiate their own heat.

On the surface, Bonfire, the book’s opening story, is a tale of boyhood high jinks. The narrator and his friend Terry, bound riotously about town, “gunned over” their bikes’ handlebars, in search of stuff to burn. For the boys, there is something they need in the flames; fire holds “bold promises”.

The Irish Times
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