Oh, boy. I do love it when someone (my dear Librarian friend Kathleen) puts a book in my hands and says "I think you'll love this." Even better when I do. Antarctica is a collection of stories by Irish author Claire Keegan. It isn't new, but I'd never heard of Keegan before. I'm so glad I have now!
These stories are not for the faint of heart. When suggested by Kathleen, she likened it to Kissing in Manhattan, a very dark and strange collection of stories which I loved, but I've found few other people who feel the same. In Antarctica, I especially loved the first and title story but there are other gems in this collection that kept me awake at night, made me scribble ideas on pieces of paper while I drove (I know, but I was careful and I'm afraid I'll forget!), and made me gasp. Some of the stories made me pause, and turn things over in my mind, and consider if I liked them or not---but then, is it necessary to like a story for it to be good? If the characters stay with you (and stay they will), isn't that a sign of a really good story? Even more wondrous for me was that some of the stories were not new (although the argument can me made that there are no new stories). For example, the beautiful sister with the long hair coming home, ungrateful and unwelcomed by her less attractive, harder-working sister--I won't spoil the end, but I saw it coming a mile away. And I feel like I shouldn't like a story that doesn't surprise me...but, then, Keegan writes in a way that is uniquely captivating and that ugly sister has really lingered in my head.
The only bad thing I will say about this collection is that some of the dialogue, especially for the stories set here in the United States, felt a little forced, a little contrived. Like me trying to do an Irish accent. But maybe I was looking for that, I can't say for sure. All I know is that I'm going to be requesting Keegan's Walk the Blue Fields and keeping my eyes out for anything else by her.