CSN is 50: Short Story: “The Ball” by Eugene O’Brien Nov19

CSN is 50: Short Story: “The Ball” by Eugene O’Brien...

Wet dew on the ball; it slid into the air like a flower opening its petals in rapid speed like I’d seen on a David Attenborough nature show on a Sunday morning before mass. The ball dipped, looked beautiful, like something out of the Matrix when the main character dives out of the way from the incoming bullets. The keeper was invisible; however, that was just my bad peripheral eyesight because I forgot my contact lenses; my mom woke me up late for my game, again. As the ball edged closer to the goal I could hear the wind, coming like a subway train pulling into the station in London. Then bang! bang! swoosh. As the post rattled (bang 1) and then the loud bang from Fat Murphy’s beer belly (bang 2) and then finally the sound I had been craving, like you crave a chocolate sundae after your roast on a Sunday: the swoosh of the ball off the net. Finally, my first goal for Buffalo FC. Monday rolled around again and another dark and depressing day in the life of an eighteen-year-old, his Leaving Cert. fast approaching in one hundred and one days. But this Monday was the first since the last Monday of Fourth Year where I was looking forward to be able to boast about my ‘winning’ shot from 40 yards out. In truth it was 6 yards out. Sauntering up to my friends like I were Gaz from Jersey Shore: chest out, shoulders swaying back and forth, the big macho man. “Look who the cat dragged into school,” Tom said as all the lads laughed. “What’s got you in a mood as if you scored with a minter last night and she didn’t leave you?” Tom asked very smartly,...

CSN is 50: Poem: “Footprints” by Liam Whelan (Winner)...

Like an emigrant on deck I steal a backward glance At the land we leave behind. This family life Turns vestige before me. At dinner I play tourist And fashion memory’s souvenirs; I see flour on my mother’s hands And its dusting on the floor. Now she peels potatoes. Now he tells a joke. This I witness from my limbo, Stuck between now And now...

CSN is 50: Short Story: “Red” by Cian Morey (Winner) Nov19

CSN is 50: Short Story: “Red” by Cian Morey (Winner)...

22nd March, 2076 – DAY 5 You never really realize how red it all is until you actually set foot on it. You know? The gravelly ground beneath your feet is red. The distant slopes and rocky hills are red. Everything is red. I used to like the color red, did you know that? I did. I did like it. It was my favorite color, in fact. I had red wallpaper in my house back home, and red sheets on my bed, and a little red lava lamp on my desk to give my clients something to focus on. Then I came here, as part of the first colonization mission to Mars. Don’t really know why I did it, I just did. Wanted to be one of the first men here, I suppose.They needed someone on the team who had good knowledge of the workings of the human mind, so they picked me, a psychiatrist. Other people had to go through interviews and tests to see if they were mentally stable. Not me. I’m a psychiatrist, after all. I test other people. Nobody tests me. So now here I am. On Mars. The first thing that struck me was how completely red it all was, did I mention that? It’s all red, all of it. There’s no water or trees or grass. No animals. No nature at all. It’s just red, and silent. Red and silent. That sort of thing starts to get to you after a while, you know? It starts to get to you. Nothing but lots of red outside the window. Lots and lots of red, as far as the eye can see.There aren’t any blinds or curtains or anything like that, so you can always see out of the window....

CSN is 50: Review of “And Quiet Flows the Don” by Graham Harrington (Winner) Nov19

CSN is 50: Review of “And Quiet Flows the Don” by Graham Harrington (Winner)...

Mikhail Sholokhov’s masterpiece And Quiet flows the Don is a novel that has stood the test of time.The book was written in the late 1920s/ early 1930s era Soviet Union and is a classic example of a Socialist Realism artwork. It has transcended contemporary cultural and geo-political obstacles to be loved by East and West alike. It has won both the Stalin Prize (1941) and the Nobel Prize (1965), the opposing forces of Capitalism and Communism both sharing in its omniprescent beauty. The novel tells the tale of the Cossack people living on the Don River through the ever-fluctuating fortunes of the Melekhov family who live in the village of Tatarsk in the early 20th Century. The protagonist, Gregor “Grishka” Melekhov, is a young cossack filled with dreams of glory, wealth and beautiful women. His boring life as a farm hand turns into an exciting adventure when he begins an affair with the wife of a local cossack man, the sultry Aksinia. Life does not go well for the lovers – their affair is discovered and, in an attempt to restore the honour of both families, Gregor is forced into a loveless marriage with a local girl, Natalia Korshunov, while Aksinia is beaten for her insubordination. Eventually, what we now call World War One breaks out and Gregor is summoned to the front but he deserts leaving his new wife and family behind and, taking advantage of her husband being at war, elopes with his former lover Aksinia. He settles with her in the home of a friendly nobleman and they begin a life together, away from war and have a child. The war catches up with them however and Gregor is enlisted with a Cossack regiment. This is where the novel’s narrative and...

CSN is 50: Short Story : “Fifty” by Cormac Mee Nov19

CSN is 50: Short Story : “Fifty” by Cormac Mee...

My life is ending. I’m not dying, but the sands are thinning and every day I hear the clock tick, just in the background, so quiet I can’t hear unless I shut everything else out. I was given a road map ( and I don’t know by whom) and I followed it. I’m not saying that I followed the path perfectly; sometimes I erred and sometimes I stalled but the truth is I’m making my way through life at a pace that quickens with every step. I look in the mirror and I don’t see me because I’m not a fifty-year-old man. My face isn’t lined and strained; I’m a young man, I’m a child! Why do people keep treating me like I matter? I don’t matter, my words don’t mean anything more than they did 40 years ago; they never will. I’ve stopped learning and started retaining. I’m on earth for as many years as I can last out, every year I can wrestle back from death. Whether I die today or in how ever many million tomorrows away, it’s ending. Everything I have, everything I was given, I have to lose it, I’m not the one who’s choosing to give it up. That’s the law of existence, more immutable than any other. I have a wife, and she has a husband. I think we’re close. I’ve never known any other type of love to compare with what I have now. I’m not a good man, I’m not a bad man either. I’m just a man like every other one who has ever existed. There’s nothing that separates the inside of my head with the inside of the worst or the best ever produced by mankind. I’m glad I’m alone. Sometimes you can’t...

CSN is 50: Review of “In the Penal Colony” by Cormac Mee Nov19

CSN is 50: Review of “In the Penal Colony” by Cormac Mee...

The idea of reviewing a work such as In The Penal Colony, of a sixteen-year-old finding flaw with and attempting to analyse a work of this complexity is comical. I’m not attempting to rate it; I’m not attempting to suggest ways that this piece could be improved. When I first read this novella I was captivated by what I understood but, more so from what I perceived lurking just behind the surface, I knew that to gain a true understanding of this work I would have to reread it, not just to read but to attempt to study the writer’s intent, the message the writer wanted to relay about society as a whole and about the barbarism of blindly following orders and tradition. A traveller, an outsider who visits a strange land with customs that appear ancient, is invited by an officer to witness the execution of a commended soldier. This officer seems infatuated with the age-old, impossibly complex machine that enacts a brutal idea of justice on those who are deemed guilty. The practice of execution is slowly falling out of fashion; there was a time when these executions captured the imagination of all of the people in this small island, a time when people would celebrate and congregate to watch a list of a man’s crimes being carved into his very flesh until he fell into a state of absolution and died supposedly absolved of all sin. This is a running motif in Franz Kafka’s work: suffering being enjoyed by the masses. In the story The Hunger Artist the eponymous artist starves himself in front of an adoring and fascinated public – although as time passes fewer and fewer people have any interest in his dubious art. This parallels the people of...

CSN is 50: Review of “13 Reasons Why” by Stephen Fogarty Nov19

CSN is 50: Review of “13 Reasons Why” by Stephen Fogarty...

If you consume fiction in anyway you will inevitably come across what I have come to call “the void,” a stasis where after finishing some truly great film or television show for example, you are plunged into a mini depression (think sitting on a park bench feeding birds as violin music plays softly in the background). If you are from my generation then you will probably have had this once you finished reading Harry Potter but it’s a feeling I have come across a few times and it has always followed something great; it is a sign that I have found something special, and today I present to you one of these rare stories: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Not long after the suicide of American high school student Hannah Baker, her fellow student Clay Jensen receives seven cassette tapes (two sides each) in the mail. These tapes – recorded by Hannah – contain the names and stories of the 13 people whose actions pushed her to take her own life (hence the title). These tapes also contained the instructions to pass them along; the tapes where originally sent to number 1 on the list who sent it to number 2 and so on. One of the great strengths of the book is the characterisation of Hannah Baker. In the hands of a less skilled writer she might have been too cheery and funny in an attempt to get the reader to like her more, or too morose making it harder for the reader to relate. The balance between these two is struck perfectly and while yes, she isn’t just completely and utterly depressed, you don’t forget for a second that this is a deeply troubled young woman. And really this is the...