Heroes and connections

Staying In

Book review

Michael Kingdon

Each of Liam Horan’s debut collection of bite-sized tales, ‘Second Chance and Other Stories’, makes a perfect mid-morning read. Realistic characters and authentic, uncomplicated dialogue draw the reader into a series of thought-provoking mini dramas.
In Second Chance, for instance, the real impact of the tale lies outside the actual telling, leaving an impression lasting far longer than the amount of time invested in reading. Who could fail to identify with the slightly awkward browser of books or the rather clumsy ‘leap and retreat’ approach of the volunteer shop assistant herein portrayed? We find stories behind the actual story. There is warmth within these lines, together with a spirit of reaching out, one soul to another. We have all been there, somewhere.
Further into the book we come to The Squat Pen, a poignant yet lightly humorous account of the experience of writing, or of attempting to write. In this short tale initial smiles become saddened as the life experience of the main character is skillfully unveiled. There remains no intricate plot, no weaving and braiding of lines, only a gentle story of life as it was, as it is, and as it may yet be. Here, Horan again enables us to read behind the lines so that in just a few short, well-written pages we discover insight and sensitivity.
One theme commonly recurs through this fine collection of work: that of seeing beyond the present and into the weeks and years ahead. We all suffer knockdowns, none more than through the last few difficult years. At times it takes courage to stand straight. In ‘Second Chance and Other Stories’ we have real, believable heroes who set out not to save the world, but to save themselves and their friends and to make a distinctly human connection even with total strangers.
This will be a deeply personal read for many whose circumstances are reflected in Horan’s well-presented prose, and is yet another example of local talent emerging here in the west. Grab your copy from local book shops.

‘Second Chance and Other Stories’, by Liam Horan, is published by Mayo Books West.