Thursday, 13 October 2016
DAN O'SHEA - OLD SCHOOL (2012)
Old School is a collection of fourteen short stories.
Why Old School? Bette Davis famously noted that "Old age ain't no place for sissies." In these stories the protagonists may not all be old, but ain't none of them young anymore. They're past the solipsism of youth, that grandiose narcissism that lets the young imagine the world as a stage devoted to their glories. Every character in Old School knows that life isn't a stage, it's a ring. And you'd better learn to take a punch, because life is the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world. You might land a shot here and there, but you are gonna get your ass beat and, in the end, you're going down for the count. Life is however-many-billions and 0, and each of us is just one more digit on the wrong end of that equation.
PRAISE FOR OLD SCHOOL:
"Whip smart and razor sharp - these stories are fast, mean, and true to the very bone. Dan O'Shea can write." - Lou Berney, author of GUTSHOT STRAIGHT
"O'Shea is my kind of writer; hard and honest, fast and funny. Old School is full of elders who demand your respect, at the point of a shotgun. The characters talk like real people, and make decisions like desperate people; meth heads, killers, drug dealers and gigolo's, this books got it all. After reading this, I'll always think twice before trying to knock over a Girl Scout." - Jay Stringer, author of OLD GOLD, coming in 2012 from Thomas & Mercer
14 shorts from Dan O'Brien read back in July.
Without referring back to the kindle I can't remember a single one of them, however flicking back through soon refreshed me.
There's a decent cadence to the stories and enough flesh on them to give you pause and acknowledge the consequences of the outcome. At least in 13 of them - one set in Ye Olde Shakespearian times kind of bypassed me - The Bard's Confession on the Matter of the Despoilment of the Fishmonger's Daughter
In Absalom we have some reflections on war and combat in Korea...
....complete disregard to his own life and safety, he wondered if they understood what that meant, what you'd turned a man into when he cared more about killing others than he did about saving himself, and if it was something you ought to give medals for.
Some of the others ......
a hitman, experience pays as he goes to work at an airport getting an unexpected bonus
an unhappy husband with a saggy-assed wife and a decent insurance policy,
a divorced father striving at work to provide for his daughter and getting canned, he's not taking that lightly
a widow disappointed by her grandson, abused by a couple of intruders but with enough mettle to have the final say
an ex-cop on his way out at a residential home and marking time, encountering a suspect from the 40 year old case that's always haunted him
two young brothers fishing and approached by a stranger, getting a soaking might be the least of their worries
13/14 belters.....top class prose - characters, pace, plot, dialogue, outcome - highly recommended.
4.5 from 5
I've enjoyed a couple of the author's Chicago based novels a year or two ago - Greed and Penance.
Dan O'Shea has a website/irregular blog here and he's on Twitter - @dboshea
Kindle copy - bought a year or two ago.
Read in July, 2016