Colin Barrett’s debut collection, which last month won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, is a triumph. We are mostly in Glanbeigh, a decrepit Irish town whose elemental properties seem to be pebble dash, dried blood, lipstick and drink. But the final scenes take pleasure in shifting the ground beneath the reader, leaving him or her with one foot in a different place.
‘Stand Your Skin’ deposits us in the company of Bat, a withdrawn young man with hair down to his backside and a face that was once stove in by a thug’s kick. He comes home after a rare night out and passes his mother (‘old dear’) on the