“Great, beautiful little studies of unspoken fear and longing and love, told with a sure-footed delicacy rare in a debut” Sarah Moss, Irish Times
“An exciting, original, and very welcome new voice” Donal Ryan
“These are startling, adventurous and often wonderful stories. I loved this collection” Roddy Doyle
A sharp and insightful debut short story collection about the pitfalls of ordinary life
A wife yearns to escape the tight-fisted confines of a package holiday. A boy dreams of footballing greatness as his mother mourns a loss. A man tries to assemble an absent child’s playhouse, with impossible instructions and too much beer. A woman seeks clarity from automated voices. A father is distracted from Christmas tree shopping with his son by the looming pressure of quarterly sales targets.
Shine/Variance captures the tiny crises and wonders of daily life with warmth, wit and decisive clarity. Ordinary people – commuters, call centre workers, children and parents – struggle for stability while craving more, and the schism between expectation and reality is only rarely bridged. Yet, amidst the faltering, recognition and bright moments of hope still illuminate their days.
Fresh, tender and darkly funny, these stories are a window into the longings, frustrations and painfully human connections of ordinary life from a remarkable new voice in fiction.
“The most powerful new collection I’ve read in some years” John Boyne
“Brilliantly bats, staggeringly compelling, and ferociously funny. Stephen Walsh rips the concreteness of reality straight from us and reflects back a more wobbly version of our turbulent lives… Completely unique” June Caldwell
“Full of assured originality and freshness – a new writer much to be welcomed” Bernard MacLaverty
These are startling, adventurous and often wonderful stories. I loved this collection -- Roddy Doyle Stephen Walsh writes of the complexities of family life with insight and humour. The most powerful new collection I've read in some years -- John Boyne An exciting, original, and very welcome new voice. Stephen Walsh draws unexpected beauty from the familiar, the tragic, the darkly comic situations any of us could find ourselves in, composing perfect little symphonies from the haphazard chords of existence. He is a witty, insightful and very skilled writer, and the voices in this collection sing from the page -- Donal Ryan Stephen Walsh's first collection is full of assured originality and freshness - a new writer much to be welcomed -- Bernard MacLaverty Stephen Walsh's writing is at once original, sharp and funny. The richness of his insight and storytelling fits wonderfully into the breadth and depth of Irish writing today -- Anne Griffin, author of When All Is Said This is a brilliant collection; formally audacious, darkly funny, utterly unique. Stephen Walsh's characters are so terrifyingly authentic I read through slotted fingers, mortified for them, and several times he had me on my feet. I loved this book -- Louise Kennedy These stories are brilliantly bats, staggeringly compelling and ferociously funny. Stephen Walsh rips the concreteness of reality straight from us and reflects back a more wobbly version of our turbulent lives. Characters are lost, lonely, restless, confused, but always gagging to roll out the very best of havoc humanity can offer. Voice, style and structure are completely unique. If someone shoved George Saunders into a giant kaleidoscope, along with a few episodes of Black Mirror, popping candy and a mescal worm, and gave it a good twist they'd get Shine/Variance -- June Caldwell Inventive, dazzling, devastating and laugh out loud funny, the stories in Shine/Variance are all this and more. It's exhilarating to read such remarkable writing. An astonishingly good debut from a writer who clearly finds joy in language -- Danielle McLaughlin, author of The Art of Falling This collection depicts with caustic wit and insight the undersides of Irish domesticity: the quiet angers and atrophying dissatisfactions. Flaunting an enviable dexterity in both voice and style, Shine/Variance is an addictive collection, rich in moments that linger in your consciousness -- Susannah Dickey, author of Tennis Lessons Stephen Walsh's stories are often playful, sometimes twisted, in form and tone, but the dexterity on display allows for deep, subtle and profoundly moving explorations of modern life -- Tim Finch, author of Peace Talks A striking new talent in Irish literature. These stories vibrate with wry humour while always packing a serious emotional punch. Slyly revealing how we communicate today; how the language of modern technology, travel, lifestyle and ambition have infiltrated our deepest thoughts, Walsh illustrates that, in fact, little has changed in the human heart since James Joyce published Dubliners, which this collection brings to mind. Hugely entertaining, gripping and moving, Shine/Variance announces the arrival of a wonderful new voice for our times -- Conor McPherson
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