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Review of "After a Dance: Selected Stories" by Bridget O'Connor - humorous and inappropriate glimpses into the realities of life and death.

Review of “After a Dance: Selected Stories” by Bridget O’Connor – humorous and inappropriate glimpses into the realities of life and death.


There is a notable amount of enjoyment to be found in these stories, despite their often disturbing content. They feature the writing of Bridget O’Connor, who released two sets of short stories in the 1990s and was posthumously honored with a Bafta for her screenplay of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy shortly after her passing at 49 years old in 2010.

O’Connor has a unique talent for finding humor in situations that may not typically be considered funny. In Remission, the character Lucy, who is referred to as “twig in a wig,” discovers a new sense of purpose after being diagnosed with cancer and even develops “a career in cancer.” In Love Jobs, there is a scene where a pet dog is unintentionally killed during a mugging and, although it may be perceived as insensitive, it is undeniably humorous. While O’Connor’s mother may not have approved of her stories due to their use of profanity, that should not deter others from enjoying them.

O’Connor has a unique perspective on the world, viewing it as a chaotic and humorous place. Her storytelling style is lively and fast-paced, drawing the reader in with a sense of closeness. Her characters, who are often unlucky in love, search for companionship in all the wrong ways. One narrator even has a routine where she times her tea to be ready after her partner’s quick lovemaking session, enjoying it with a cigarette afterwards.

The stories together form a community of voices, showcasing characters who face adversity and continue to persevere. For example, in “Old Times,” Rick’s yearly reunion with a childhood friend leads to him being attacked at a bus stop. This happens early in the evening, at 7:30pm.

O’Connor never achieved writing a novel, evident in the fact that her dynamic style would not have been suitable for longer works. According to an interview with the Irish Times, she admitted, “I am only able to sustain a story for 10 pages before succumbing to its weight.” However, since her stories possess more energy than many novels, this lack of a novel is not a significant loss.

Source: theguardian.com