by Roddy Doyle
originally published in the May 24, 2010 issue of The New Yorker.
Click here to read the story in its entirety on The New Yorker webpage.

Click for a larger image.

I haven’t read Roddy Doyle before, though I have tried to read a short story or two. This is the first one I made it through, and I have to say it is probably because it was so short. The writing is fine. There are moments I felt I was getting in to it, for a few lines, but I just never got into it.

The story itself is old but good: a marriage is breaking up. In this case, the stories opening lines are said by the wife: “We’ll still be friends, she said.” She then goes off, coming home a few times in the first days, but then disappearing for a while. Meanwhile, the husband takes care of his two daughters (“Where’s Mammy?” “Work.” “Poor Mammy.” “Yeah.”) and talks to his brother about how to cope.

I was already not impressed with the story when the ending came along, an ending that pulled meaning from the Icelandic volcanic eruption. That made me start to wonder just how much time had been spent preparing this story for publication.

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By |2016-06-09T17:35:53-04:00May 17th, 2010|Categories: New Yorker Fiction, Roddy Doyle|Tags: |3 Comments


  1. Trevor Berrett May 17, 2010 at 11:22 am

    New fiction forum up.

  2. Trevor Berrett May 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    My thoughts on “Ash” are up above. From the lack of comments from others I’m going to assume many did what I felt like doing: throwing the story away and simply moving on.

  3. KevinfromCanada May 25, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Well, I finished the story but I have a similar response. I like Roddy Doyle and his best works (the Barrytown Trilogy for example) feature this kind of every day dialogue, but it just does not work here. An overwhelming impression of “so what”.

    What does trouble me about this story is that I wonder if it indicates a direction that some good writers (and I do think Doyle is one) may be heading: stories as extended Twitter exchanges. That is very much what this reads like and, as someone who thinks in more than 140 characters, it is not a direction that I want to head in my future reading.

    I’m starting to think that I am very glad I have a library of many books that will serve me well for reading for the rest of my life. I’m not sure at all that I want to head into this kind of “story”.

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