***SHORTLISTED FOR THE WRITING.IE/IRISH BOOK AWARDS, SHORT STORY OF THE YEAR AWARDS***
The Things We Lose, the Things We Leave Behind is a new collection by Billy O'Callaghan that explores everyday existence in the aftermath of cataclysms both subtle and overt. The characters who populate these stories are people afflicted by life and circumstance, hauled from some idyll and confronted with such real world problems as divorce, miscarriage, cancer, desertion, bereavement and the disintegration of love.
From the tale of an institutionalised orphan boy in 1950s Ireland sold into servitude as a farm labourer, to the Sevillian matador who in a single misstep has fallen into a life of obscurity, and on through to the poignant title story of a man returning to his island home to see again the child that he abandoned, these are stories about picking up the shattered pieces and finding among them some glint of value, and some way to survive.
In The Second Coming, Yeats wrote: "Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold." Yet here the reader is offered evidence to the contrary, with the suggestion that the human heart boasts extraordinary resilience and is possessed of an ability to find redemption in the most unexpected of places. In the face of tragedy we re-evaluate ourselves. We bear the guilt, sorrow and regret for the things we have lost or given up, we seek the light, and we endure. These thirteen stories attempt to illuminate the darkness.