Trouble: Lyricism and cynicism bring a strange sort of wisdom

Book review: It is hard not to be impressed by these stories from Philip Ó Ceallaigh

There are so many unexpected turns and bizarre idiosyncrasies to Philip Ó Ceallaigh’s stories that each could do with a review, or psychoanalysis, of its own. Photograph: Alina Purcaru

There are so many unexpected turns and bizarre idiosyncrasies to Philip Ó Ceallaigh’s stories that each could do with a review, or psychoanalysis, of its own. Photograph: Alina Purcaru

It’s been 12 years since Philip Ó Ceallaigh published a collection of short stories, having won the Rooney Prize in 2006 for his debut, Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse, followed up, in 2009, with The Pleasant Light of Day.

A different writer, perhaps a less self-assured one, might have produced a novel at this juncture. But Ó Ceallaigh persists with the short form, and his latest collection, Trouble, is testament to why. Short stories speak differently than novels. They can accommodate more craziness, sustain things that longer, more establishment form won’t tolerate. The tormented peculiarity, the dark humour and saturation of Ó Ceallaigh’s work could not be captured any other way.

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